One of the avenues that has been identified over the years as having great potential to help close the nation’s trade deficit – imports exceeding exports – is the food export sector. For years, the top partner countries to which Ghana exports food products include the Netherlands, Japan, USA, Malaysia and France.
Food exports (% of merchandise exports) in Ghana was reported at 21.98 % in 2019, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.
This figure according to Ghana’s foremost Association advocating for the interest of export of Ghanian foods – Ghana Assorted Foodstuff Exporters Association (GAFEA) – has not significantly changed in the past year but the nation would experience some exponential growth just with the establishment it a Single-Window Packhouse.
Globally, evidence abounds to show that the use of single corridor packhouses for assorted foodstuffs exports has facilitated the growth and development of the export of foodstuff from such countries.
Speaking to the Shipping Review magazine, Executive Secretary of GAFEA, Kuuku Aggrey said: “Packhouses have helped to harmonize and synchronise the work of state inspectorate agencies in a manner that eliminates costs and facilitates compliance with international food safety standards as well as best practices in the handling of foodstuff for both the local and international export markets”.
He explained that the current modes through which assorted foodstuffs and vegetables are inspected and cleared before they can be exported from Ghana are flawed by the lack of harmonization and coordination of the roles of the institutions mandated to oversee these inspections and clearance.
According to him, uncoordinated processes eventually result in massive financial losses to exporters of assorted foods from Ghana and some aggressive efforts are needed to protect the interest of players in the sector to help increase export, a major avenue government wants to use to support the stability of its micro-economic indicators.
The story of Ghana Assorted Foodstuff Exporters Association, GAFEA begun in 1989 with five (5) individuals as a private sector member-based organisation that groups and represents the interest of Ghanaian foodstuff exporters.
GAFEA was established with the broad goal of advocating for policy and strategic infrastructural interventions for enhancing the business viability of the Ghanaian food export enterprises.
Its membership spread across the country stands at 55, all of whom produce foodstuff such as yam, oil palm, gari, plantain, cassava for export either in its fresh or processed state.
Some of the processed foodstuff for export include cassava dough and canned palm nut soup to the USA and Europe.
Prince Edward Adu, President of GAFEA said the priority of the Association is to enhance the performance of the Ghanaian food export enterprise and it is striving to achieve this through group marketing activities and international trade programmes. It has the vision to become the premier assorted food export organisation in Ghana and is on a mission to enhance the export performance of the individual business enterprises that operate in non-traditional food exports.
Contribution To National Economy
Apart from the foreign exchange its activities attracts into the economy to support the stability of the local currency, GAFEA has also contributed to providing meaningful jobs. GAFEA engages over 1000 out-growers who provide the foodstuff needed for processing before they are exported.
Mr. Aggrey noted that a lot of the effort being put in by the Association is also geared at supporting the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) in attaining the Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) revenue target of US$25.3billion by 2029.
As a result, it is pushing all its members to be accredited exporters so as to collaborate and complement efforts by GEPA in attaining the revenue target.
The exporters are therefore encouraged to attend sensitization workshops organized by the various Shipper Committees across the regions under the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) as well as training workshops organized by GEPA which take exporters through programs including; elements of contract and negotiations; export marketing planning; elements of export marketing mix research; trade fair participation dynamics; and packaging and labelling.
It is no secret that shipping and handling are not cheap. From gas prices, aeroplane fuel, and limited cargo space to the complexities of last-mile and route planning, shipping carriers are forced to get a lot of work done with limited resources. This has invariably affected the operations of all exporters.
The GAFEA says the development over the last three years since the outbreak of COVID-19 has been worse, eroding their margins, a situation they have little control over.
The Association also expressed concern about delays in cargo movements, causing them to lose huge sums of money. They say the delays at airport cargo handling operations are preventing the efficient movement of freight, another constraint in the global supply chain at a time when shippers rely more on air transport.
External Support Received
The Association mentioned the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Donor Agencies and the Food and Drugs Authority as some of the organisations that have supported their operations over the years and ensured that they stick to globally approved standards to compete in the global market.
All these interventions and support are in conformity with the US$25.3 billion targets for the 10-year structural transformation embedded in the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) designed by GEPA and its stakeholders. Ghana will need to rake in about US$600 million each year to realise the target by 2029.
The nation is optimistic that the over-400 different NTE products available to the country can push the agenda to meet the target vis-à-vis collaboration from the export community.
Why Do Business With Us
GAFEA has a strong rural driven community base from which it has set up a programme to ensure regular supply of foodstuff that can be exported. Through this, the Association has created a strong bond with farmers leading to increased output. This makes the Association a pillar not only in the agricultural sector but in the economy.
The experience gathered over the years has resulted in quality and attractive packaging of products which assures customers globally value for money.