Friday, 28 August 2015

The GhanaVeg Initiative Should Increase The Availability Of Organic Vegetables In Ghana

How safe is food sold in Ghana? Healthwise, how well does our system protect consumers of agricultural produce, grown here, from ingesting pesticide residue? And how can we increase the availability of organically produced fruits and vegetables in Ghana?

In May this year, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA), gave Barnet Council officials permission to destroy 70 bottles of contaminated palm oil, imported into Britain from Ghana, which were discovered in a shop in Watling Avenue, Burnt Oak.

The question is: Who in Ghana is looking out for the interests of consumers here - to stop them being sold such contaminated agro-industry sector products in markets and shops across the country?

The poorly-resourced Ghana Food and Drugs Authority needs to be better resourced. If it was, those 70 bottles of Ghanaian palm oil, which were seized in the UK, would have been seized and destroyed here, before they got to the UK.

When tested, the 70 bottles of Ghanaian palm oil seized in Burn Oak, contained high levels of the red dye, SudanIV, which is used in polishes, waxes and petrol - and is carcinogenic when used in cooking food.

Alas, those 70 bottles of contaminated Ghanaian palm oil seized in Burnt Oak, in the UK, represent the tip of the iceberg, in a huge food contamination scandal here - that over the long-term will probably end up resulting in the deaths of thousands in Ghana, if not tackled robustly.

The quest for healthy food has led to an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables in Ghana.

That is a good development that helps improve public health in Ghana.  However, the dilemma for many, is the risk to health posed by high levels of pesticide residue and other contaminants, such as carbide, found on many fruits and vegetables in markets across Ghana.

It is for that reason that one welcomes and supports the GhanaVeg initiative - which seeks to professionalise the entire value chain of the vegetable sector in  Ghana: and make it world-class.

Hopefully, that will lead to an increase in organic vegetable farms in Ghana - and create thousands of greenhouse vegetable farming jobs for young people in rural Ghana: as the production of high-value vegetables for both local and export markets increases in leaps and bounds.

GhanaVeg also links Ghanaian vegetable farmers with Dutch vegetable growers and importers, for business partnerships, at matchmaking events that it organises  from time to time, in Ghana.

The next two such matchmaking events, will take place at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi, on the 7th of September, 2015, and on the 10th of September, 2015, at La Palm Royal Hotel in Labadi, Accra.

Hopefully, it will lead to win-win partnerships, between those Ghanaian vegetable farmers who for ethical reasons are against GMO's -  but want to produce export-grade vegetables  and are therefore interested in converting to organic vegetable farming -  and organic Dutch vegetable famers, who share the same ethical code and business goals.

That should  eventually lead, one hopes, to an increase in the availability of pesticide-free vegetables in markets across Ghana. And that cannot come soon enough for many vegetarians (including me!) in Ghana.

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