The European Union (EU) has threatened to ban a number of non-traditional exports (NTEs) from Ghana because they contain poisonous chemicals, including aflatoxins.
The EU issued a number of food safety alerts (threats to ban) to the Ministry of Trade and Industry last year against products such as peanut butter (groundnut paste), agushi and maize meals, such as banku mix, for containing aflatoxin, which causes cancer.
Salmonella presence in cotton seeds, Sudan IV dyes in palm, as well as poor hygienic state of dried fish all received threats of ban from the EU. The European Union (EU) remains the largest export market for the country’s non-traditional products.
About 34% of the country’s NTEs end up in the EU market, 10% in other developed countries, and about 32% for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) market.
Ghana made $2.2 billion from non-traditional exports for the first eight months of last year to overtake cocoa as Ghana’s third highest export earner.
Any ban is likely to throw off gear government’s annual revenue target of $5 billion from the export of non-traditional products within the next five years, under the Ghana National Strategy for the non-traditional export sector.
That will also worsen an already bad situation where cocoa and gold export receipts declined by $1.3 billion last year.
Mr Alexander Dadzawa, Head of Marketing and Promotion at the Ghana Export Promotions Authority (GEPA), explained that the alerts have to do with improper processing of the affected products and a lack of appropriate measures to check quality before exportation.
He pointed out that the companies that exported these products cannot be traced because they have not registered with the GEPA, and it is more than likely that they have not sent the products to either the Ghana Standards Authority or the Food and Drug Authority for testing and control before exportation.
“These are the challenges being faced in ensuring that only quality products are exported from Ghana. As of now, there is no law compelling all exporters to register with the GEPA before they could engage in exports,” he lamented.
Mr Dadzawa therefore called for regulations to ensure that all exporters are registered with the GEPA.
He said the regulations must compel companies to go through certification by the GSA and the FDA before being allowed to export anything from Ghana.
Aflatoxin is a fungal toxin that commonly contaminates maize and other types of crops during production, harvest, storage or processing.
Aflatoxin mycotoxins are toxic to humans and even more toxic to animals. They also cause cancer in humans and animals.
Sudan IV dyes
Palm oil merchants desperate for huge profits introduce poisonous colourings into this key essential commodity. Certain industrial red dyes, such as Para Red and the Sudan IV, are not permitted for use in food, as they are carcinogenic.
Growth on non-traditional exports
From the years 2001 to 2008, non- traditional exports (NTEs) grew steadily at an annual rate of about 16.4%, with the highest rate of about 30.4% occurring in 2007.
In 2009, the sector was hit by the global economic crisis which resulted in the fall in earnings by 9.38% from $ 1.340 billion in 2008 to $ 1.215 billion in 2009.
In 2010 and 2011, export revenues from the sector went up by 34.15% and 48.74% respectively to $1,629 billion.
Non-traditional products export in 2012 amounted to $2,364 billion, rep-resenting a decrease in value over the previous year’s earnings of $2,423 billion.