No ban on cereals from Ghana – EU

The European Union has debunked media reports suggesting that the Union has banned or intends banning cereals, groundnuts and related products coming from Ghana.

It noted in a statement that in 2014, the volume of groundnut products exported from Ghana to the EU amounted to EUR 10.5 million.

The statement however explained: “The European Union is taking Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues seriously and is working together with Ghanaian authorities to prevent adverse health risks posed by possibly contaminated products.”

It further underscored: “The European Union, through the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) Programme, is jointly with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) providing capacity building to export-oriented value chain operators. This includes local producers, traders and exporters.”

Below is the full statement
With reference to the article titled “EU considers ban on peanut imports … Over fears of Aflatoxin contamination” published on 19 May 2015 in the Business & Financial Times and the article titled “EU threatens ban… Over quality of Ghana’s cereals” published on 14 May 2015 in the Ghanaian Times, the European Union in Ghana wishes to clarify that there is neither an existing ban nor an intention to ban exports of cereals, groundnuts and related products from Ghana to the European Union. In 2014, the volume of groundnut products exported from Ghana to the EU amounted to EUR 10.5 Million.

The European Union is taking Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues seriously and is working together with Ghanaian authorities to prevent adverse health risks posed by possibly contaminated products. Since 2013, special import regulations govern the export of peanuts and certain products derived from peanuts (such as peanut butter) from Ghana and a number of other countries to the EU, due to findings of high levels of aflatoxins in peanuts and peanut products originating from these countries. The conditions are laid down in Regulation (EU) No 884/2014 < http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0884&from=EN > stipulating that specified products, such as groundnuts, can only enter the EU through specific ports and airports as designated points of entry, and sampling of consignments has to be done at designated points of imports.

Supporting Ghana to improve compliance with international Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards, including in the area of aflatoxins, to reduce health risks in Ghana and beyond, is a key objective of European Union development cooperation. The European Union, through the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) Programme, is jointly with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) providing capacity building to export-oriented value chain operators. This includes local producers, traders and exporters. The project includes seminars to provide up-to-date information on the latest techniques, controls and EU regulatory requirements for exports, as well as field training on good agricultural practices and post harvesting operations, focusing on hazards in the groundnuts supply chain.

Background
Aflatoxins are a highly toxic group of mycotoxins, which include different species of fungi, notably the Aspergillus Flavus, which is the most common in Africa. Aflatoxin contamination of groundnuts is a major hazard to human and animal health. Groundnuts and other cereals are at high risk to be contaminated with aflatoxins, if not cultivated, harvested or stored properly, particularly under warm and humid conditions. Strict quality regulations and controls have been introduced by many developed countries to address consumer health risks related to Aflatoxins.

The European Union Regulation (EU) 884/2014 < http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0884&from=EN > stipulates special conditions governing the import of certain foodstuffs due to the contamination risk by aflatoxins for a number of countries such as Brazil, China, Egypt, Ghana, India or Nigeria. These special requirements are:

– Each consignment of peanuts and peanut products intended for export to the EU has to be sampled and analysed by the competent authority of Ghana prior to export to the EU.

– All consignments of peanuts and certain products derived thereof exported to the EU have to be certified;

– Consignments have to enter the EU through designated points of entry (DPE) for a 100 % documentary check

– After a favourable documentary check, consignments can then be transferred to designated points of import (DPI), at which 50 % of the consignments imported into the EU have to be again sampled and analysed for aflatoxins by the competent authority at the designated point of import.

– Concerned products are mainly groundnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts and other nuts, raw or prepared, as well as dried figs and watermelon seeds. The provisions of the Regulation are regularly reviewed and for the time being no change in the provisions is foreseen.

The EU is in a regular dialogue with the Government of Ghana on the compliance of plants and plant products exported from Ghana with the EU Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards, which includes aflatoxin in groundnuts and peanut butter. The EU regularly monitors the quality controls, which are in place in Ghana through audits undertaken by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission Health and Food Safety Directorate General.

The EU Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) programme is specifically supporting the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in implementing an action plan to improve quality controls of fruit and vegetable exports to the EU, which have suffered from a high number of interceptions at EU borders due to the presence of harmful organisms.

SPS issues are one of the main constraints to be able to trade globally, including for Ghana when exporting to its largest export market, the European Union. It is of utmost importance for Ghana to improve its quality infrastructure to take full advantage of the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement and to integrate into global value chains.

For further information on the TRAQUE programme, visit the website at www.traqueghana.org

Hélène CHAMPAGNE
Political Officer / Head of Communications
Delegation of the European Union to Ghana
Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com| Isaac Essel | [email protected] | twitter @isaacessel


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