Ghana’s vegetable exports to Europe and the Americas have shrunk from 36 different types of variety to only eight.
Despite this gloomy picture, there are still unexplored, practical steps that can be taken to reignite Ghana’s vegetable export sector.
This was made known at the FAGE Vegetable Roundtable hosted by the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) in Accra.
The General Manager of Srighan Farms Limited, Pon Satheesh, who made this known at the FAGE Vegetable Roundtable hosted by the Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) in Accra, observed that things were looking bleak as 2021 statistics show that the country only exported 20 tonnes weekly to the United Kingdom as compared to 80-100 tonnes every three days back in 2012.
He said the drop in the vegetable trade comes at a time when the country was craving export opportunities, to arrest the slide of the Ghanaian cedi, tame inflation and create high paying jobs.
Hosted by FAGE, the roundtable was held to discuss issues that Ghanaian Vegetable Exporters face and enable joint action in overcoming the challenges.
Participants included Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association of Ghana (VEPEAG), Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) and commercial farmers.
Mr Satheesh said other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa export significant volumes of vegetables by sea so it was possible.
“It would reduce transportation costs, increase our competitiveness and boost foreign earnings to Ghanaians,” he added.
The Chairman of Ghana Vegetables, Dr Felix Kammasah, bemoaned the lack of cold storage at Kotoka International Airport (KIA).
“It is not only the lack of carriers available to take our exports abroad, that is the issue. We need more cold storage space at the airport.
“Now, if we cannot get our cargo on the right flight, some exporters then need to pick up their produce from KIA and travel to another region in Ghana to get cold storage. It is so painful to manage,” he said.
FAGE and FreezeLink -which provides cold storage, transport and engineering services to food and pharmaceutical companies - agreed to work together on these challenges, noting that cold chain logistics services extend product shelf-life, reduce post-harvest losses and increase the value of horticulture exports.
Opportunity to export
The exporters also identified shipping by sea as a new unexplored opportunity for Ghanaian vegetable exporters.
Historically vegetable-export in Ghana has depended on transportation by air, because of the products’ short shelf life. Although fast, air freight is expensive.