Continuous improvements in Ghana’s infrastructure base
Ghana is greatly endowed with resources, has an excellent climate, rich soil and good port facilities. Also it enjoys a strategic location near profitable global markets. Furthermore continuous improvements in infrastructure base are made. Significant steps are made towards further professionalism of the quality infrastructure in the country.
Over the past few years both Ghanaian and international parties have jointly contributed to further upgrading the Ghana Quality Infrastructure. For instance, the comprehensive Trade Capacity Building project (2007-2018) improved both technical and human capacity in the conformity assessment institutions. The support from this programme was made available by SECO / Switzerland government as well as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). This kind of support goes a long way to help developing economies like Ghana to penetrate the international markets with certified goods from accredited testing laboratories.
Below are the main characteristics of the upgraded National Quality Infrastructure.
1 Ghana Standards Authority – the National Quality Hub
The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) develops, publishes and promotes standards in the country.
It does this through standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment activities. These activities ensure that products or goods and services produced in Ghana, whether for local consumption or for export are safe, reliable and are of good quality.
As a result of ongoing improvements, GSA has increased its capacity in:
Informing and training Ghanaian enterprises on priority public and voluntary standards with high market demand.
- Using standard-related activities to enhance and further institutionalize consumer protection.
- Operating in a more sustainable way following international best practices.
- Understanding recent trends and developments in agricultural trade flows.
- Converting implications of changing market demands into training programmes.
- Enjoying access to a local base of consultants and trainers whom are ready to implement traceability systems in exporting units.
In addition the following specific standards were optimized recently:
- Specifications for fresh produce (yam, cowpea, aubergines, garden eggs).
- Inspection manuals required to assess conformity against specifications codes of practice.
- Revision of pre-requisites on food safety.
The GSA product certification system is accredited to international standards (ISO/IEC17065).
2 Traceability system
A national traceability system is being put in place, to be administered by GEPA. It allows Ghana exports to be traceable to its production field. The traceability system will be a big step towards the identification of the origin food sources. It is not only of prime importance for the protection of consumers, it is also an important regulation enforced by the European Union for all its imports.
3 Ghana Certification Body
The establishment of a Certification Body in Ghana which is accredited for the certification of Quality Management Systems (ISO 9000 and ISO 22000) is in progress. It will provide the region with the assurance that the certification processes are in line with international requirements. As part of the process a big number of auditors already received recognized certification for ISO 22000 and for ISO 9000.
4 Testing laboratories strengthened
In total, over 10 laboratories in Ghana exist with various test scopes. These are accredited in line with international standards (ISO/IEC17025).
Several testing laboratories across Ghana were strengthened. They provide reliable and internationally accepted tests for exports. The meaning to importers and exporters is countless:
- Accreditation and proficiency testing is a recognized mark of confidence and approval
- Increased acceptance of exported goods
- Cost reduction due to decreased need for re-testing
- Time gains
The Microbiology Laboratory under the Food and Drugs Board has improved its quality system. This allows the laboratory to provide testing services according to international methods. The products tested include natural medicines, food and water.
Pesticide Residues Laboratory
The upgraded lab at GSA ensures food safety from microbiological contamination. It allows determining accurately more than 30 pesticides and maximum permissible residue levels (MRL) found in fruits and vegetables.
The chemical laboratory at GSA was upgraded and enables conducting test methods on a larger scale and offers enhanced accuracy in the testing of export products. The chemical laboratory also has capacity to test for aflatoxin and histamine.
Microbiology laboratory / seed testing laboratory (PPRSD)
The Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) seed-testing laboratory is important to protect plants and to ensure the quality of the seeds used by growers. It was upgraded in the following areas:
- Inspection methods.
- Application and interpretation of marketing standards.
- Delivering training on marketing standards and inspection procedures, focusing on chili, okra, tomato, aubergine, mango, pawpaw, and pineapple.
- HACCP principles, traceability and phytosanitary inspection.
The laboratory is able to provide services not only to domestic seed users but also in the West African Region.