The European Union (EU) has lifted the ban on vegetable exports from the country into the EU market after satisfying itself with the country’s phytosanitary requirements.
The five Ghanaian plants which were banned three years ago are chilli pepper, bottle gourds, luffa gourds, bitter gourds and eggplants.
This means that from January 1, 2018, exporters of these vegetables will have duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market like any other product from Ghana.
In a press release issued by the EU Delegation to Ghana on Tuesday, the EU Commission said the country was presently phytosanitary ready to undertake export of the five selected vegetables.
The country is estimated to have lost about US$30 million in export revenue as a result of the ban on vegetable exports into the EU.
The five commodities will have to fulfil the EU phytosanitary legislation to ensure the freedom of quarantine pests.
The decision to lift the ban follows an audit undertaken from September 12 to 21, 2017 by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission and the evolution of the numbers of import interceptions with quarantine pests notified by member states for commodities not subject to the ban.
Since the beginning of the ban in October 2015, the country’s authorities have taken significant corrective measures to improve the inspection and control system for plant health at exit points, particularly at the Kotoka International Airport.
EU congratulates Ghana
The commission praised the country for reaching this important milestone and encouraged it to consolidate the upgraded system and to continue further improvements in the phytosanitary certification system to obtain full compliance with the EU phytosanitary requirements.
This outcome has been possible thanks to combined efforts of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD) and coordinated support from several development partners, including the EU through the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) programme, the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the Netherlands Embassy through the GhanaVeg project and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The harmonised approach has been instrumental to reaching the objective of complying with the EU requirements this year.
The resumption of exports of all plant commodities to the EU market will enable Ghana to fully benefit from 100 per cent preferential access to the EU market provided by the Stepping Stone Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force on December 15, 2016.
From 2012 to 2015, the number of intercepted plants from Ghana at the EU borders due to the presence of harmful organisms had increased significantly.
On October 13, 2015, the commission decided to prohibit the introduction of five plant commodities from Ghana into the EU market until the end of December 2016.
The ban was purposely restricted to those commodities that had had the highest number of interceptions. Following an audit undertaken in September 2015, a decision was taken by the commission to renew the ban by one year until December 2017.
Over the past years, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Service Department (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has received support from several development partners, notably to improve the inspection and control system at the airport, to improve traceability, as well as to develop and implement the Ghana Green Label Scheme.
Coordination of the received support has been successfully done through the SPS Task Force set up and chaired by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.