Let’s take advantage of Dubai’s fruit/vegetable market
There is an adage which says: “when one door closes, another opens,” and the situation fits perfectly well with the vegetable and fruit exports sector, which has faced several challenges with Europe, the country’s largest trading partner, as a result of sanitary and phyto-sanitary challenges.
Ghana, as an agro-based economy, has a comparative advantage in the production of legumes and fruits, but due to poor handling, packaging and high levels of chemical residue, Ghanaian exporters of fruits and vegetables have been frustrated by Europe’s strict phyto-sanitary regime.
Exporters have been affected by the occasional bans of our vegetables and fruits exports, incurring huge losses to the producers and marketers.
However, a window of opportunity has presented itself with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry organising a workshop for Ghanaian exporters of fruits and vegetables, as well as, agro-processed products.
Whilst we would not in the least suggest that low standard fruits and vegetables should be sent to the UAE or any other part of the world, for that matter, it is time we, as a national policy, explored other markets beyond what is already available to us, to widen the market for our produce.
The UAE presents enormous growth opportunities as it spreads its tentacles to Africa, seeking products like fruits and vegetables. With an estimated 4 billion market across the Middle East, with Dubai as its gateway, Ghana stands to benefit substantially, provided we take full advantage of the opportunity and make a serious incursion in to that market.
Last year (2016), agricultural commodities and foodstuff were among the top products traded between Dubai and Ghana, which means there is an untapped potential for exporters of those products in the country, and we expect the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) to seize the opportunity and create avenues for Ghanaian vegetable exporters to explore.
If agricultural commodities and foodstuff fetched the non-traditional export sector US$22 million in 2016, alone, then we need to realise that there are alternative markets that our vegetable exporters can take advantage of.
With the UAE’s fast-growing population, coupled with the rising tourist visitation, its market presents great opportunities that Ghana can tap into.
We are indeed grateful for the opportunity presented, and believe this is the opportune time for our exporters to build bridges with their Dubai counterparts in lieu of market opportunities.
Paperless seaports very welcome
As the implementation of the ‘paperless’ port policy begin in earnest on September 1, 2017, a lot of public attention has been given to the issue, which is good.
But as indicated by President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCC), Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso, a lot more sensitisation needs to accompany its implementation.
This advice is based on the fact that the same project was to be rolled out in 2012, but had to be abandoned due to the fact that stakeholders along the value chain were found to be unprepared. The Vice President, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, is championing the project this time around and it is expected to reduce turnaround time and cost of conducting business at the country’s ports.
Improving efficiency at the country’s ports is a must if we want to be globally competitive and relevant in this era of globalisation. The usual bottle necks that impede the smooth transaction of business at our ports has been highlighted severally, and the new measures could not have come at a better time.
The delays at the ports have been a disincentive to the investor community whose capital is sorely needed to shore up our struggling economy.
Thus, it comes as a major development for government to address the bottleneck and ensure that transactions at the ports are speeded up in conformity to international best practices. However, in order to ensure that this time around, the project is not derailed because of lack of stakeholder buy-in, we concur fully with the GNCC President whose membership are key stakeholders, on the need for wider sensitization.
There is no doubt the implementation of the paperless clearance at our ports will sanitise import/export processes, and make Ghana more globally competitive. It should also, hopefully, cut out the corrupt practices we often hear about regarding port operations.
The underhand dealings at the ports will be greatly curbed by the implementation and all this will give confidence to the investor community we are trying hard to woo and attract. With the successful implementation of the paperless seaports, we can now extend same to the country’s airports and this will truly make Ghana the business gateway to West Africa.