The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is encouraging investments in groundnuts as a sustainable way to address the rising needs for both food and foreign exchange in the country.General Manager of GEPA, Stephen Normeshie, says export development of groundnuts and cereals appear “crucial and urgent” for foreign exchange earnings for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. Ghana’s non-traditional exports earning in 2013 was US$2.4billion, out of which groundnut exports amounted to US$6.4 million.Mr. Normeshie says this needs improvement if the government is to achieve the US$5 billion target to be generated from the non-traditional exports sector by 2019.A major challenge that needs to be addressed in the export of groundnuts is the high rate of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts which reduces the quality of the product to the international markets. “Today, exporters face two major challenges: ensuring food safety by preventing and controlling fungus contamination of products and adapting groundnut supplies to demand for varieties best suited to specific end-uses,” said Mr. Normeshie.
The GEPA is targeting groundnut farmers and processors in twenty districts covering four regions of Ghana – Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West – with a series of training programmes to enhance export quality control, management and certification of groundnut and cereal products to the international markets.It seeks to train 2000 stakeholders in the groundnut value chain on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) with emphasis on prevention and controlling of aflatoxin contamination on groundnuts. The project is funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by the Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling Programme (TRAQUE), and under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI). In Ghana, export earnings are heavily dependent on cocoa and a few largely unprocessed commodities.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is however diversifying the country’s agricultural production and expanding export production volumes through the introduction of new varieties with high oil content, pest resistance and early maturity. The Ghana Export Promotion Authority is of the belief that preventing and controlling fungus contamination has the tendency of enhancing groundnuts and cereals export quality to the international markets.World export trade averaged 1.2 million tons of groundnuts, valued at over US$948 million per year over the last five years – out of which nearly two-thirds was provided by developing countries. “Ghana with its favourable climatic conditions and abundant rich soil has comparative and competitive advantage in groundnuts and cereal exports and hence is well positioned to take advantage of the international market opportunities to develop the sector,” stated Mr. Normeshie. Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh