The Green Label Ghana Foundation, under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has organised a Green Label Traceability Workshop to improve the standard of fruit and vegetables for safe consumption in the country.
The Green Label Trace, which is being executed in partnership with the GIZ and Hottie Foods, is a food safety certification scheme that addresses challenges with fruit and vegetables consumption.
Three certification bodies and auditors – SGS, Control Union and Smart Cert – have so far been engaged to ensure that farmers comply with the acceptable standards outlined.
According to the Board Chairman of the Green Label Ghana Foundation, Samuel Nii Quarcoo, the idea is to eradicate unsafe fruit and vegetables that comingle with safe ones on both the local and export markets, compromising the health of consumers.
He said traceability is a risk-management tool that allows food business operators or authorities to withdraw or recall products which have been identified as unsafe.
He added that the Green Label Scheme is to assure the availability of locally-produced high-quality, safe and affordable fresh fruit and vegetables on the Ghanaian market, and compliant fruit and vegetables for export.
The Ghana Green Label Scheme is currently using the Green Trace Scheme, which allows for bio-data collection on operators, information on agronomic practices, information on type of chemicals used, and keeping information to track produce from farm to fork and vice versa. The Green Trace Scheme does this by using unique tracing QR codes.
With regard to safety and security measures put in place to prevent imitations by unscrupulous persons, the Board Chairman said the QR codes can be scanned for verification purposes using any app that supports QR code scan on smart phones.
This, he said, will prevent scams and imitation of the label. Also, he was quick to add that there will be a scratch-area with a hidden code available for consumers without smartphones for QR code verification. This will enable them to text the code to a particular short code for verification and authenticity.
He added that the label has trace codes which tell who produced it, the quantity bought and what chemicals were used to produce it.
According to Mr. Quarcoo: “This system addresses a value chain wherein we have people who are ready to buy produce from the farmers, package it and sell it to retailers and the like. So, it ensures that people who are certified as farmers will not have issues with maintaining appropriate records and amount of fertilisers needed for the produce grown”.
Touching on cost and pricing, Mr. Quarcoo said: “We don’t sell the labels, but it is the certification scheme that we are asking the farmers to come on board with so that they can source from only Green Label growers and processors, so people can also purchase from Green Label buyers. To sign onto the scheme itself comes with a cost, but the label doesn’t.
“The cost for signing onto the scheme depends on your site. So, if you are a farmer with a single site it means you have to pay for the cost of just that single site; likewise, a farmer with multiple sites. He will just have to pay for the price of it.”
The Green Label Trace scheme was inaugurated September 2017, and is expected to take full effect in January 2019. Currently, there are about 500 registered farmers yet to be certified by the scheme.