Ghana is about to thrust into the much fancied European Union food market with the first 20 tonnes of honey to be shipped to Ireland by January 2012.
The feat was facilitated by Atlas Foods Ghana Limited, with support of the relevant regulatory organisations in Ghana. Mr Kieran Lavery, Managing Director of Atlas Foods confirmed news about the EU accreditation to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Ho.
He said it was two years of difficult and insightful push of Atlas Foods that brought Ghana the business début, which could ignite trails of Euro-Ghana business deals. A transcript of an Official Journal of the European Union made available to the GNA indicated that the EU listed Ghana as qualified to export honey to Europe after what the document said were the provision of “sufficient guarantees”.
Besides quality, the EU had confirmation that the quantities could be provided to meet the orders required, even as demand rose.
Ghana has thus joined five other African countries, Uganda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zambia, with the accreditation to export honey to the EU market. Mr Lavery said the accreditation was subject to renewal after one year, based on the continued observance of the set standards of quality.
He said the source of the motivation for this pioneering work was an elderly man’s plea, while he (Lavery) was working as a volunteer in the Adaklu area of the Volta Region.
Mr Lavery said that man who was exasperated by poor sales of his honey asked him to find market for Ghana honey when he got back home (Ireland). Mr Lavery said that plea lingered on in his mind and he therefore incorporated Atlas Ghana Limited with Mr John Caulderbanks, as Executive Director, to begin the process.
He said Mr Benjamin Bankas, working as the Business Development Officer, Atlas Foods collected samples of honey to Ireland for various tests.
Mr Lavery said vital inputs came from the Ministry of Foods and Agriculture, which appointed Veterinary Services Department as the competent authority to oversee the monitoring and testing process.
He said the search for EU accreditation was started from January 2011 until October 2011 when the accreditation was finally reached with the Union. Mr Lavery put the cost so far at around $8,000.
He said the source of honey packaged for export was mainly from the Nkwanta and Kpassa areas. Mr Lavery said as the business thrives it would lead to the hiking of income levels of the honey producers in the Region.
He said the international market for honey is growing and that Ghana being in West Africa could fill the supply gap being created by instability in other producing zones in Africa.
He said Atlas Foods, which currently has a staff of five, would go into processing of honey for the table with time.
The Netherlands Development Organisation, Eastern Portfolio, commissioned a study into the viability of honey production and funded a forum to discuss the findings as an input into poverty reduction in Ghana.
The Business Consultancy and Research Unit of the Evangelical Presbyterian University College, also in a baseline survey confirmed beekeeping as a huge area that needed exploitation. Beeswax, for example, has more than 120 industrial uses with ready markets in Ghana and abroad.
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