On Tuesday 3rd November, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) organized a meeting with some primary stakeholders involved in Ghana's consumer Imports and Exports. The meeting which took place at the Ministry of Health Auditorium, comprised of staff from the FDA, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Ministry of Health (MOH), Veterinary Services Directorate (VSD), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Ghana Revenue Authority-Customs, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Food Research Institute (CSIR-FRI), Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) as well as representatives from Ghana Assorted Food-Stuff Exporters Association (GAFEA).
The purpose of the meeting was to set up a coordinated procedure for Ghanaian food export. Over the last twenty-two (22) years Ghana has received Five Hundred and Fifty-Four (554) safety related food export alerts which have the potential to mar the image of Ghana in matters pertaining to food export.
Each organization took turns to give an overview of what they were mandated to do as well as state the challenges they faced in relation to exports. This shed some light on the similarities between the organizations as well as a stronger reason to collaborate.
One salient point that resonated across was the fact that there was the need to come together to ensure that not only did exports meet standards but also that what is consumed locally be given the same level of urgency.
One main challenge noted was the lack of a well-coordinated procedure to guide Customs and also the issue of some exporters failing to follow the laid-down procedures. Another was the poor conditions that some products are subjected to before and during the export process.
It was established that a coordinated system would boost compliance by exporters, increase revenue and enhance the image of Ghana among our trade partners.
All present agreed that there was a need specially to strengthen relations amongst themselves and most importantly Customs as they serve as the last check for exports.
In order to ensure that both Ghana and its exporters were not financially hurt by a potential ban on Ghanaians products due to sub-standard food exports, an agreement was reached that a committee chaired by GEPA consisting of all relevant agencies and bodies be formed to arrive at a solution which would not lead to more bureaucracy but rather more efficient ways to ensure that all the checks are as airtight as possible.
The meeting ended with all representatives expressing eagerness to work together to push the One Health agenda and place Ghana in a positive light so far as food exports were concerned.
The FDA exists to protect public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances, tobacco and the conduct of clinical trials in the country.