The Export of Horticulture from Ghana

From 1997, horticulture exports from Ghana have grown tremendously. Pineapples and citrus fruits form the major bulk of horticultural exports, and these are sent to countries using air and sea route. The government has taken proactive steps to help horticultural exporters by linking them to the SPEG. This enables a ship to anchor at the port of Tema, where one or more holds are loaded with the export and then transported.

The Export of Horticulture from Ghana

More than 70,000 tonnes of fruits are exported from Ghana annually and the principal fruits exported are pineapples, citrus, bananas, and papayas. Ironically, the country has very few large scale growers and majority of the fruits are cultivated and grown by small growers. One of the largest exporters of pineapples in the country is Farmapine, which is a co-operative of small growers. Pineapples, bananas and papaya are exported to Europe, while citrus finds its way to neighbouring Togo. Sea freight is the most common mode of transportation, but some papayas and pineapples are also exported via air.

Vegetables for export are cultivated in the southeast part of the country and more than 20,000 tonnes of vegetables are exported annually. The dominant export is yam, but chillies, okra, eggplant, guar beans, tinda, gourds, marrows and yard long beans are also exported. Vegetables meant for export are handpicked and then sent to Kotoka Airport, where they are repacked and then palletised. While the airport has facilities to repack the vegetables, they are not part of the cargo area. Hence, all repacking is done in open air.

Problems with Horticultural Exports from Ghana

Quality is a major issue when it comes to fruit exports. Growers and exporters have taken steps to conform to EU rules and regulations by getting EUREP GAP certification and opting for the COLEACP pesticide initiative. However, very few of them have been able to meet the EU supermarket requirements. The biggest challenge that Ghana faces today is educating the growers about quality issue. As most are small scale growers, the task on hand is a Herculean one. However, if the country wants to continue exporting its fruits, it will need to find a way.

Vegetable export is facing a problem with repackaging, as it is done in open air at the airport. This often lowers the quality of the vegetables and causes them to perish faster. While there is a huge demand for Asian vegetables in the EU, Ghana has not managed to make its presence felt as yet. But it is still the largest exporter of yams to the EU, with growing demand in the United Kingdom.

However, the horticulture export sector is underperforming in Ghana and this is primarily due to the fact that the growers do not get adequate support.

The Future of Horticulture Export from Ghana

Ghana needs to reposition its existing exports that are popular, such as Asian vegetables, chillies, pineapples and papayas. This is possible only if the country improves its infrastructure and technical abilities. Furthermore, Ghana also needs to take a second look at its marketing strategy, which currently concentrates on a single product. It should look to integrate multiple product lines.

As most horticultural growers are SMEs, the country needs to come with a framework for quality standards. However, this framework should be set up by the stakeholders for it to be effective. Otherwise, no amount of assistance and programmes will help the growers overcome the problems they are facing in the market today.


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