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Horticulture exporters urged to scale up production

BY: Maclean Kwofi
• Marjorie Abdin (2nd from left), Vice President, FAGE, taking a turn during the panel discussion. With her is Glikou Folly Mike (left), Founder & CEO, Sunrise Plus; Chris Goodsir (2nd from right), Country Manager, Swissport, and Amma Gyampo (right), CEO, Scale Up Africa

Horticulture exporters have been challenged to take advantage of the looming shortage of fruits and vegetables in Europe as a result of the raging Russia-Ukraine war to maximise their gains.

The Country Manager of the multi-national airport handling company, Swissport, Chris Goodsir, who made the call, explained that the war was creating an energy shortage in Europe resulting in greenhouses used for growing fruit and vegetables reducing their hours of operation.

“This has resulted in a shortage of fruit and vegetables in Europe and this means that exporters of these crops in West Africa have an opportunity to sell higher volumes of exports to Europe but at higher prices, too,” he said.

Speaking at the maiden West Africa Agri Cold Chain Summit in Accra, Mr Goodsir said the development presented a window of opportunity for exporters to ship temperature-sensitive food, by harnessing cold chain logistics.

This, he said, came at a time when Ghana was desperately in need of export-driven foreign exchange.

On the theme “Unleashing Ghana’s Fruit and Vegetable Exports,” the event, organised by FreezeLink, a cold chain logistics firm, brought together key stakeholders in the pharmaceutical and fruit and vegetable export sectors to discuss pertinent issues impacting on the horticulture industry.


The discussions touched on the Russia/Ukraine war and increased fruit and vegetable exports from Ghana; the connection between ‘pre-cooling’ and Ghana’s currency crisis; and the reason why African fruit and vegetable exports, on average, earn 55 per cent below the global price for the same produce.

Intra-Africa trade

The Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Inspira Farms, an international cold chain equipment manufacturer, Dr Michele Bruni, said intra Africa trade was a hugely overlooked opportunity across the continent.

He said one of his company’s partners in Zimbabwe recently began selling apples in the Democratic Republic of Congo at higher prices than it sold them in its traditional market in Singapore.

FreezeLink

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FreezeLink, Owusu Akoto, said the company was close to completing a World Bank-funded refrigerated fruit and vegetable terminal at the Cotonou International Airport.

He said it would enable farmers in Benin who produce chilli pepper, mango, banana, pineapple and pawpaw to export their produce to high-value international markets.

“Initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) can only make their way from dreams to reality, if we have infrastructure that creates connectivity. Cold chain represents such vital connectivity for the food and healthcare sectors” he said.