Stakeholders in the domestic piggery industry are threatening legal action which could result in a total import blockade on pork products across board – should the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) fail to disclose detailed information on a recent agreement to buy large quantities of pork from the United States.
Two of such stakeholder civil society organisations (CSOs) – the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) and National Pig Farmers Association (NPFA) – have said they are being frustrated by MoFA in their quest to obtain full information and documents on the agreement.
The lack of consultation, detailed information and documents on the agreement that was signed between government and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is creating panic among domestic pig farmers, feed producers and key sector stakeholders.
CAG and the NPFA said a legal action and petition through the International Trade Commission of Ghana, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and other relevant bodies will be presented in the coming days to ban all pork imports should MoFA fail to disclose full information on the deal.
“We don’t have the document to know the extent of the agreement and its impacts. MoFA is frustrating us and hiding information from stakeholders,” CAG’s Chief Executive Officer, Selorm Anthony Morrison, told the B&FT.
Application for right to information
Mr. Morrison said an application has been made by lawyers of CAG and the NPFA to the Right to Information Commission (RTI) to compel the ministry to release all necessary details and information on the agreement.
“The full details, when available to industry players, will enable us to learn what the agreement entails and what aspects require redress when we go to court,” he said.
On Tuesday, January 24, 2023, the B&FT reported that MoFA had reached an agreement with the USDA, confirming that the Ghanaian market is officially open to U.S exports of pork and pork products in addition to other meat products.
The agreement was reached with MoFA as the result of a request made by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on October 24, 2022 for Ghana to allow pork products to be imported in large quantities.
The report said the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Veterinary Services Directorate of MoFA signed and responded to the request on January 12, 2023 – that the country will not only accept pork products onto its market but also others including beef, goat, lamb and poultry.
Whereas the USDA has noted the agreement is an opportunity that will be exploited by businesses from the US, the deal has sparked concerns among stakeholders of possible dumping – with calls on local authorities to be vigilant.
Pork import figures
Ghana’s imported pork and pork products market was valued at US$16million in 2021, according to the USDA.
Total imports have increased progressively from 2017, hitting 15,000 metric tonnes in 2021. The market is dominated by the European Union, with the United States not being a significant player – not even counted among the top-ten importers of pork into the country.
About 70,000 metric tonnes of pork and pork products have been imported into the country over the last six years from 2017 to 2022, according to Trade Data Monitor LLC – with the top-ten countries being Belgium, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and France.