Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) is pleased to announce that International Executive Service Corps (IESC) has been granted a sub-award under the Farmer-to-Farmer Special Program Support Project (F2F SPSP). IESC will implement The Improving Food Safety Systems Project (IFSSP) in Ghana between May 2016 and September 2018, with an award of $2.8 million.
The overarching goal of IFSSP is to improve access to markets for Ghana’s farmers by strengthening the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) compliance systems for Ghanaian fruits and vegetables. Strengthening SPS systems will enable public and private sector collaboration for active growth in exports and sector productivity and profitability. Currently, the country’s institutional framework for SPS systems lacks the necessary coordination, resources, and human capacity to communicate, implement, monitor, and enforce regulations. As a result, farmers apply pesticides too frequently, often purchase and use unregistered agri-chemicals, and do not adhere to pre-harvest intervals, making pesticide residue levels on produce questionable. Unfortunately, these practices have led to the presence of harmful organisms such as the Fruit Fly and False Coddling Moth in export shipments, which have had severe economic impacts on producers because their exports have been rejected. Until the challenges in Ghana’s SPS compliance system are resolved, Ghana’s fruit and vegetable farmers will be constrained in their access to markets.
To address the issue, the IFSSP will establish traceability systems to improve confidence in Ghanaian exports, increase trade, and thereby incentivize farmers to adopt good agricultural practices to produce food that meets SPS standards. Together, IESC and its partner, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), will deploy 60 volunteers who will contribute more than 1,000 days of service. Senior-level volunteers will provide technical assistance to at least 300 Ghanaian specialists and policymakers to implement product traceability systems. This volunteer technical assistance will be combined with training of trainers, and, where necessary, the provision of software and other appropriate inputs to ensure SPS systems developed and promoted by the project are implementable and sustainable. The volunteers will also provide assistance to 4,960 farmers and other value chain actors (including 1,984 women) on adopting recommendations to mitigate SPS issues.
VEGA and IESC are confident that if Ghanaian horticultural value chain actors are made aware of the social, environmental, and economic benefits of complying with SPS standards and are empowered with the tools and skills to do so, then they will become proactive participants in the process to implement traceability systems. Ultimately, the number of rejections of horticultural exports will decrease, thereby improving access to markets for Ghana’s farmers.