As a result of unsafe fruits and vegetables commingling with safe ones on both the local and export markets, the Green Label Secretariat is encouraging the consuming public to patronize the Green Label certified fruits and vegetables readily available on the Ghanaian market in order to be assured of quality and safety.
Green Label is a food safety verification scheme to promote safe produce on the local and export market as a form of government’s response to growing consumer concerns over contaminated farm products which have implications for their health.
The inappropriate production practices such as contaminated irrigation water, improper use of agrochemicals and non-adherence to pre-harvest intervals is a major challenge to the health of the consuming public.
Speaking in an interview at the sidelines of a stakeholder consultative workshop in Accra, the Executive Secretary to the Green Label Secretariat, Anthony Tamakloe, indicated that the objective of the project is to ensure that the consumer is given a choice to decide between healthy and unhealthy farm produce on the market by choosing produce distinguished by the Ghana Green Label seal.
According to him, the green label secretariat has over the past one year, put in place the necessary systems to ensure successful implementation of the scheme.
“So far the secretariat has engaged 3 international certification bodies; namely; Control Union, SGS Ghana and Smart-Cert Ghana to provided auditing services, 12 agronomist have received training on the Ghana Green Label Standard (GS 1054) to assist farmers in implementing the requirements of the standard.
“Some farms have already been certified; among them is Agritop – a 5.4 hector greenhouse farm located at Dawhenya. Produce from these farms are supplied to pack houses that has FDA certification and subsequently packaged for the supermarket and hotels.
Eden Tree currently is one of the packhouses receiving produce from certified farms and is currently being retailed at Max Mart 37 and A&C Mall.”
The Green Label consultative workshop is supported by the HortiFresh project to bring together all major industry stakeholder to create a platform for open communication with the secretariat in furthering the scaling up, entrenching and expanding the reach of the Green Label Scheme.
The issues for consideration focus on certification, traceability, transportation, labeling and marketing and the invitees included Donors, farmers, processors, retailers, vegetable producer’s association of Ghana, Ghana vegetable exporters, food and drugs authority, PPRSD, vegetarian association of Ghana amongst others.
The Executive Secretary also indicated that the GIZ has provided six month media publicity campaign support to educate the consuming public on the need to buy and eat certified fruits and vegetable of same quality as those exported to the EU market and also to reduce health risk associated with consumption of contaminated fruits and vegetables.
These campaign, according to him, has sparked a huge demand for Green label certified produce with major supermarkets such as Marina Mall, Shoprite, Melcom, The Farmers Market showing great interest for which the secretariat has invisaged to make produce available at these outlets before the end of December, 2019.
To be able to meet these growing demand and entrench the patronage of green label certified produce on the local market, Hortifresh project has provided substantial funding to support certification of some selected farms and packhouse, improve security feature of the label and to also sensitize the public on the need to buy and consume certified fruits and vegetable produce on the local market.
The Secretariat is therefore calling on all farmers and processors interested in implementing good agronomy and distribution practices to contact the secretariat as well as appeal to the health conscious consuming public to patronize the Green Label certified fruits and vegetable made available on the Ghanaian market.
Mr. Anthony Tamakloe said the 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, increase income levels of producers and other value chain actors by more than 5%, strengthen traceability system and record keeping to create robust tracking and tracing system and create market demand for Green Label Certified produce through effective marketing.
Source: Clement Akoloh/africanewsradio.com