Ghanaian agri-food exporters to the European Union (EU) market have been urged to focus more on trading in organic and biodiversity-compliant agriculture produce.
Madam Morag Webb, Head of Science and Policy at the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) who gave the hint explained that such products were in line with targets within the EU under the new Green Deal policy initiatives.
Madam Webb, who was speaking at the maiden edition of a webinar series organised by the Ghana Embassy in Brussels said the EU had a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems in the EU under its biodiversity strategy for 2030.
The webinar, which was on the theme, “Increasing access to Ghanaian Goods to the EU Market” brought together regulatory agencies from Ghana, Official from COLEACP, Embassy staff in Brussels and Ghanaian exporters.
She said the EU would support a global transition to sustainable agri-food systems, in line with the objectives of the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The major focus of the F2F, she stated was to reduce dependency on pesticides and excess fertilization, increase organic farming, reverse biodiversity loss.
Madam Webb, speaking on the topic, “EU Regulation: Sanitary and Phytosanitary, Measures, Labeling and Packaging” all plants and plant products going to Europe must be accompanied by the necessary documentation.
She mentioned that produce that had high pesticide residues; pests, high aflatoxins, wrong labeling, and packages would be rejected and destroyed by the EU.
“Every food item must have the name, list of ingredients, net quantity, use-by date, instruction for use, nutrition declaration, batch, traceability, operator name and country,” she said.
She announced that the number of produce interception by the EU as a result of pests and disease dropped from 38 in 2017 to below eight in the year 2020.
Mrs Sena Siaw-Boateng, Ghana’s Ambassadors to Ghana in a remark said the webinar series evolved as a result of feedback received from Ghanaian diaspora after series of engagements before and after the outbreak of COVID-19.
She said the impact of COVID-19 had compounded the existing challenge of low market access to EU market by Ghanaian businesses in Belgium hence the need to initiate steps to find solutions to the challenges to sustain livelihood.
Mrs Siaw-Boateng noted that there were some complex EU policies that Ghanaian Traders and Diplomats faced in that region.
Madam Diana Acconcia, Head of EU Delegation to Ghana said Ghana was part of the Economic Partnership Agreements, a trade and development agreement negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and regions.
As a result, she said there were many companies in Ghana engaged in the export and imports of different commodities.
Madam Acconcia said the EU subjected products to strict and transparent measures due to the high volume of exportation of products from developing countries saying, “This is the reason why our regulations are strict”.
She said Ghana had good agricultural produce that would sell in the EU market and urged stakeholders to exercise patience to adopt the standards adding that the EU was ready to support with training to enable Ghanaians to meet the standards.
Madam Acconcia called for a strong dialogue on how some of the hurdles could be surmounted.
The Head of EU Delegation stated that the EU was working with Association of Ghana Industries to offer training and other support in other to meet the strict Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards to be able to export to the EU market.
Mr Prudence Attipoe, Head of the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) said Ghana had adapted the new requirement by providing more investment in human resources and capacity building.
However, he expressed the concern that most of the regulatory requirements were so stringent that they constituted trade barriers to the export of plant and plant products for many West African countries