Wheat flour that was smuggled into Ghanaian markets has recently increased, according to the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IAEAG).
Samson Asaki Awingobit, the association’s executive secretary, said this at a news conference in Accra and claimed that the importation of foreign wheat flour was ruining the local markets in Ghana.
Therefore, he urged the FDA and other agencies to act quickly to support Ghanaian wheat flour manufacturers by outlawing or cracking down on this smuggled flour in order to protect the nation’s small flour milling businesses.
“Those wheat flour comes with cheap prices making it easily accessible in all the markets, hence was one of the common commodities consumed in every Ghanaian household on an average day, whether as bread, pastries and pancakes,” he said.
Mr Awingobit explained that as much as they headed the IAEAG, it was also their duty to look out for the safety of Ghanaians and draw the attention of other agencies to check products that came to the country through unapproved entry points.
According to him, the country did more of imports than exports and that was causing most of the illegal activities in the country which was why there was the need for more surveillance at the markets.
“The imported wheat flours which are smuggled through unapproved routes into the country from neighbouring African countries also come with foreign languages inscribed on the bag or jute sack, making it difficult to even identify their expiration date,” he said.
Mr Awingobit expressed concern that majority of those foreign wheat flours in the Ghanaian market space did not have either the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) or the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) seal on them.
Revealing that Cote d’Ivoire flour millers have been granted exemption from payment of duty or taxes on imports for 90 days, with a ban on the exportation of the flour produced under the exemption to other countries.
However, the flour has found its way into the Ghanaian market and was sold less than almost 50 per cent of the Ghanaian produced flour in the market, making the Ghanaian market have low patronage.
Mr Awingobit highlighted that because the country’s boarders were porous, those who imported the wheat flour through dubious ways did not pay any taxes, fees, levies, and other charges on their products.
“This influx of wheat flour is affecting the flour milling industry in Ghana especially the local currency’s sharp depreciation against the US dollar and other major trading currencies,” he stated.
“Government must also create an enabling environment for the local flour milling industry to work at ease and stand a better chance to compete with neighbouring countries,” he appealed.