Business News of Thursday, 17 January 2013
Ghana risks having her export products to the European Union (EU) markets reduced if she fails to initiate steps to comply with EU Commission’s requirement on product traceability.
The Commission’s decree on the General Food Law of the EU (EC 178/2002), which became effective on January 1st 2005, requires that all exported products be documented so that their history and location could be easily and readily verified so as to remove dangerous products from the market.
Mr Stephen K. Normeshie, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), who gave the warning on Wednesday, added that since the EU was Ghana’s major export destination, any break in integrity of food supply chain could adversely affect exports from Ghana to the EU markets.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, he said, export revenue earning realized from the EU in 2011 alone stood at 499,054,914 dollars, a figure that represented a 38 per cent of total export revenue.
To address the situation, Mr Normeshie said the GEPA had started to implement a project to build the capacity of its staff to roll out a geographical mapping of companies and to create a data base for a national traceability system known as Geographic Information System (GIS).
“This is to create a data base for exporters in food and agro processing products”, he said.
Mr Normeshie added that the GIS involved the unique identification of products and raw materials from sources in originating countries and maintenance of accurate records on geographic location of firms, farms, factories, movements and utilization of products at all stages of the value chain.
He said GEPA had engaged a consultant to develop and install the traceability system.
Mr Normeshie said the project, which would continue throughout the year, would test-run the system, configure electronic linkages with all stakeholders (including exporters, Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet), intensify the mapping exercise and build an intranet capacities to implement the traceability system.
He said though the EU had given countries some respite within which to comply with the law, Ghana needed to act before the grace period expired.
“Any breakdown in the integrity of food supply chain can affect exports from Ghana to the EU and this will subsequently have a dramatic impact on individual businesses, industry and seriously affect Ghana’s Non Traditional Export (NTE) revenues”, he stressed.
Mr Normeshie said though the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region was Ghana’s second major market in terms of export revenue, increased penetration to the EU market was still critical to the country’s economy.
ECOWAS markets in 2011 fetched Ghana 261,922,314 dollars, representing 29 per cent of total export revenue.
Mr Normeshie said most Africans, who could be found in the European markets have strong preference for made-in-Ghana goods or products, including gari (processed cassava) and kenkey (a maize meal).
He said he was grateful to the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund and the Ministry of Trade and Industry for their financial support and expressed hope that increased support would enable GEPA attain its target of raking in 3.308 billion dollars revenue earning for the 2013 financial year.