The Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL) has exported its first chili in commercial quantity after the company piloted production of the vegetable within a controlled greenhouse environment in Accra.
GIRSAL indicated that the initiative was to develop a business case to attract commercial financing into the country’s fruit and vegetable production in.
Planting activities started at the project’s first location in the Agri Impact Greenhouse Enclave at Dawhenya on May 17 this year, with harvesting and export commencing on July 24.
It is expected that results from the commercial trial in terms of costs for required infrastructure and inputs will guide a cost-benefit analysis for commercial production and financing.
Director of Agribusiness at GIRSAL, Samuel Yeboah, said the first consignment target for the commodity – which was 80 boxes at 400 kilogrammes weight of chili – has been exceeded.
He said GIRSAL projects making about US$25,000 from each acre of production every year.
“We have identified an off-taker in the UK to absorb all the produce, as the market demand there is high. The chili are exported within 24 hours after harvest to mitigate the risk of post-harvest losses during export,” Mr. Yeboah said.
GIRSAL expects to develop and pilot other exportable vegetables in the future, with the aim of encouraging both private producers and banks to have an interest in financing the sector.
GIRSAL’s Chief Operating Officer, Takyi Sraha, explained that the scheme is part of the company’s five-year strategic plan to increase exports and reduce imports by using its credit risk guarantee instrument to stimulate investment within the agricultural sector.
GIRSAL’s partnership with Vegpro Group
GIRSAL currently partners Vegpro – one of Kenya’s largest horticulture businesses, which produces over 30 commodities in greenhouse and net house conditions with a workforce of over 12,000.
Mr. Sraha said the decision to pilot chili cultivation was conceived after a study tour of Vegpro Group’s operations in Kenya by GIRSAL.
“The team came back with some useful lessons, which included the decision to pilot production of chilies in net houses – thereafter using results to encourage farmers to adopt the same practice,” he noted.
He disclosed that GIRSAL and its partners in collaboration with MoFA PPRSD, Yara fertiliser and GhanaVeg in October last year launched the programme to conduct commercial trials of chilies in four hectares of net houses as part of measures to meet requirements for EU vegetable export standards.
GIRSAL expects that the production of chilies under the net house will be one of the means to address sanitary and phytosanitary concerns of the EU and help get the industry back to the export market.
The partners selected four locations for the commercial trial production: including the Dawhenya irrigation site in Accra, which has begun production.
Other locations expected to begin cultivation soon include Tsatoe Woadze and Ziope in the Volta Region, and Kyekyewere in the Eastern Region.
Previous export ban on vegetables
In 2014, the EU issued an export ban on several high value vegetables based on phytosanitary and food safety compliance issues.
Since the EU ban was removed in 2015, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) has been working to ensure strict adherence to phytosanitary standards for the few exporters in Ghana.
Indeed, in 2014 Ghana exported US$5.4million worth of chili to the EU; but since the ban was lifted in 2015, chili exports have declined from US$1.3million in 2015 to US$87,000 in 2021, according to TradeMap data.