Ghana to resume curry/karela exports after six-year ban
Ghana has secured approval to resume the exports of two high-value vegetable commodities to the United Kingdom (UK) and European Union (EU) market after nearly six years of its ban.
The approval was given for the trading of curry leaves (murraya koenigii) and karela (momordica charantia) after satisfying all the conditions set by EU Commission and the UK.
This was after the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) with support from the University of Ghana (UG) and other key stakeholders developed a system in collaboration with farmers to implement them.
However, the export of the commodities will now be subjected to quality checks, including laboratory approval certifications.
The 2017/18 High-Risk Regulations of the EU Commission described the two vegetable commodities as high risk due to the quarantine pest associated with them and subsequently restricted their imports.
Multiple sources at the MoFA, in an interview with the Graphic Business in Accra, said based on the approval, the directorate had directed Ghanaian exporters to resume the exports of the commodities from January this year.
The EU Commission periodically develops the Plant Health Law, which seeks to increase the prevention against the introduction of new pests via imports from non-EU countries.
Thus, it was the 2017/18 EU law that described the two exportable vegetables from Ghana as high risk due to the quarantine pest associated with them.
According to one of the sources, with high-risk products, the law stipulates that there must be research to ascertain whether there was evidence of the disease in the exporting country and then a protocol would be sent to the EU for approval when measures had been put in place for mitigation.
In the case of Karela, the underlying factor was that the country needed to conduct thorough research to find out the existence of the pest in the country.
Fortunately, when the research was conducted evidence of the pest for Karela was not found in the country.
“So based on that we wrote back to the EU Commission to inform the commission that the regulation concerning pests is not in the country and, therefore, Ghana is free from the pest so we can export the product.
“And so in about a week the commission responded and declared the country free from any diseases associated with the vegetable and for this reason we could export momordica charantia,” another source said.
“The research was done in collaboration with PPRSD, UG and PABI. Curry leaves on the other hand were part of the high-risk products because of a pest known as dyforina.
“After the UK successfully separated from the EU, it reviewed the regulations and granted Ghana the permission to start exporting curry leaves. EU Commission also reviewed its regulations and granted the approval for the export of curry leaves and that is why the PPRSD has asked the exporters to resume exports.
“That notwithstanding, protocols for the production of curry leaves and karela have to be adhered to in order for the country to continue the exports of pest-free products to the market,” another source indicated.
The President of Ghana Vegetable, Felix Kamassah, who worked closely with the team to secure the approval, said the resumption of exports for the two commodities was welcoming news for industry players.
That, he said, was because the EU and UK had a huge market for the two vegetable produce and for that reason Ghana needed to take all the necessary steps to benefit.
As a result, he said industry players had joined forces to leverage the market with a new strategy to grow export earnings from vegetables to at least $10 million this year.
“With the approval granted for exports of these products to the international market, we will be able to grow earnings from vegetable exports from $5 million in 2022 to $10 million this year.
The President of the association noted that actors in the industry from 15 different associations and groupings had joined forces in the Ghana Vegetable to boost production.
“We now have about 1,000 members who work in various forms in the value chain,” he said. He observed that the association was targeting the youth, especially tertiary students and graduates to help boost vegetable production and exports. He said that it was in support of the government’s effort to improve the country’s export drive.
“We are engaging students from tertiary institutions who have an interest in agriculture to help them venture into vegetable production,” he said.