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Regional News of Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Source: Agrictoday.com.gh

Farmers, processors to urged to ign on to the Green Label Certification Scheme

The Green Label Secretariat has called on all farmers and processors to join the green label certification scheme to ensure availability of quality and safe of fruits and vegetables in the country.

This was lauded by the Executive Secretary of Green Label Secretariat, Anthony Tamakloe, at the Green Label consultative workshop with support from the HortiFresh project to bring together all major industry stakeholders to create a platform for open communication with the secretariat in furtherance of the scale-up and expansion of the reach of Green Label Scheme in Accra.

According to Anthony Tamakloe, food safety is paramount in the value chain and human life and the only way to ensure this is to tackle food safety certification, and making sure that the right procedures are done at the farm level.

“Food safety certification does not start in the pack house, neither does it start at the retail end because the only way we can ensure food safety is to ensure that we start each step right from the farm. So once all the protocols are observed starting from the farm, we know you are producing quality produce to the market”, he said.

He further stressed that the sector is confronting a lot of challenges, bemoaning the inappropriate production practices such as the use of contaminated irrigation water especially in urban centres for growing of vegetables, improper use of agrochemicals, non adherence to pre-harvest intervals, unwholesome fruits and vegetables conjugated with the safe ones on both the local and international markets.

These challenges, he said, are what gave birth to the Green Label Scheme to promote safe food, through post harvest handling and distribution using good and environmentally sustainable agriculture practices till it reaches the final consumer.

Solutions to curb the challenges by Green Label Secretariat In order to trounce the inappropriate production practices and ensure consumption of quality fruits and vegetables in the local and international markets, Green Label has put some measures in place to check these irregularities of the farmers who choose to work with them: Certification Scheme. Green Label certification scheme is modelled to certify farms that comply with the requisite production and distribution systems that ensure that safety and environmental sustainability are not compromised until produce reaches the consumer.

The implementation of this scheme according to the executive secretary should facilitate the eventual transition of the Ghanaian horticultural industry to sustainable agriculture, including farm history, and water analysis report—which is where the water for irrigation is tested to find out whether or not it is appropriate for irrigation—and the Food and Drugs Authority certification as well.

Traceability. The traceability system is a risk management tool that documents the journey of the farm produce from farm to fork. It requires the value chain actor to keep adequate records of all activities. This is to allow for easy tracing and tracking of the produce in the event of recall or defect.

This information is embedded in the green label trace code on the label. Labelling and Marketing. The labelling system is such that all products that have been certified by Green Label are labeled with serial numbers that indicate that the products are of good quality for consumption both in the local and international markets.

Green Label Scheme has impacted immensely in the agricultural value chain since its inception in 2015. Green Label has ensured the availability of enough good quality products on the market through smallholder farmer support. Currently, Green Label certified products can be purchased from Maxmart at 37 and A&C mall.

Green Label has again been able to reduce the health risk associated with consuming contaminated produce. Also, the scheme has put a premium on certified products to ensure more income and improve productivity.

Not to relent on its good work, Green Label secretariat is embarking on the agenda to facilitate certification of 30,000 producers, 40 processors and 500 retail outlets on the Green Label certification scheme by 2022.

The secretariat is anticipating an increase in the income levels of producers and other value chain actors by more than 5%, strengthening traceability systems and record keeping to create a robust tracking and tracing system and the creation of market demand for Green Label Certified produce through effective marketing.

At the consultative workshop, the issues for consideration focused on certification, traceability, transportation, labeling, and marketing. Some of the consultatives present were donors, farmers, processors, retailers, the Vegetable Producers Association of Ghana, Ghana Vegetable Exporters, Food and Drugs Authority and amongst others.