Consumers of gari, a food prepared from cassava dough, have started demanding that the product is certified by the Ghana Standard Board before it is sent to the market.
The consumers said all certified gari product should have logos on the packages to confirm that they were produced under hygienic conditions.
Mr Samuel Kwarteng Nyamekye, Zone Three Coordinator of the Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing (RTIM) programme of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture disclosed this at a stakeholder’s forum for farmers, processors and traders from Gomoa East and West Districts at Apam.
Mr Nyamekye said people were now more conscious about their health and therefore would ensure that whatever they consumed was prepared under hygienic conditions.
He said RTIM was exploring marketing avenues in countries outside Ghana for the product, hence the need for certification by the Ghana Standard Board, before export.
The Zonal Coordinator said RTIM with the support of the GRATIS had introduced stainless steel graters to replace the iron and zinc ones, which got rusty with the acid from cassava.
He expressed gratitude to the Apex Bank Limited for consenting to assist the processors to acquire the new graters and smokeless ovens to protect them from smokes and excessive heat.
Mr Fred Oteng, Zonal Capacity Building and Linkage Officer, RTIM, said the programme had established good practicing centres where the new graters, smokeless ovens, pressers installed at places which had been tiled to prevent acid from eroding the floor, at Abura Dunkwa in the Central Region and Otaipro near Akim Akroso in the Eastern Region.
He said the model centres were to help gari processors to establish their own.
Miss Maureen Azu, District Agriculture Officer, said some farmers would be selected to undertake multiplication of cassava sticks on commercial basis for sale to other farmers, to promote the growth of the crop in the two districts.
She said in the interim, the new variety of cassava called “Afisiafi” was being acquired from other districts for the farmers in the area.
Mrs Olympia Williams, Central Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, MOFA, identified land acquisition, repayment of loans and group formation, as major problems the Ministry was facing in the Region.
She said it was time farming was taken as a business but not for subsistence.
Mrs Evelyn Opare, District Director, MOFA pointed out that the unwillingness of farmers to adapt to changes, was the cause of the poverty in which they lived.
She cautioned gari processors against storing cassava dough on the bare floor.
Mr Hayford Quaye, who presided, appealed for the timely provision of inputs and loans to farmers.
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