The specific roles of regulatory bodies in monitoring the safety standards of fresh food produce and their effectiveness in discharging these roles is important to assure consumers of their safety. In Ghana however these specifics, with regard to the produce of ready to eat fresh vegetables have neither been fully understood nor investigated. The seeming absence of regulatory mechanisms and its corresponding policies from the appropriate regulatory bodies have contributed to the challenges faced by vegetable producers and consumers in Ghana. Investigations were therefore conducted to assess the level of influence of regulatory institutions on vegetable production in the Ga-South Municipality of Ghana. The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional survey using a structured questionnaire. A total number of 300 respondents comprising of 200 farmers, 50 exporters and 50 regulators were purposely selected. Descriptive analysis and ordinal regression were employed to analyze the data and explain the patterns of interactions among the identified regulatory factors influencing vegetable production. The results revealed that adoption of stringent safety standards, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), ability of regulators to strictly enforce the law, availability and adequacy of policies ensuring food safety and quality, the prevalent regulatory environment effects on vegetable safety/quality and enforcement of trade contracts to the letter are institutional environment factors that significantly influence the quality of vegetables (P≤0.05). The findings suggest that institutional changes with respect to the aforementioned variables and other complementary factors such as contract farming and credit access can significantly contribute to increased, efficient and safe vegetable production. The regression results showed that- gender, educational level and farmers working experience did not significantly influence people’s perception on how regulatory bodies influence the quality of vegetables. The findings suggest that institutional changes must be made with respect to the variables mentioned early on and other complementary policies enforced to ensure safe and sustainable vegetable production.

1.1 Background
Quality management plays a vital role within the food industry. It cuts across the many different stages of sourcing, processing and packaging. In addition to the basic laws and regulations on nutritive value, quality management also incorporates factors that ensure the safety of the product that reaches the final consumer. Critical attention to ensure safety is especially needed where fresh food products such as fruits and vegetables are involved as they are highly susceptible to contamination. Developed countries that import farm produce pay such close attention to the quality and safety of vegetable products that they intercept those that do not meet their safety and quality standards. When a country fails to meet the international standards of quality, sanctions are posed against it. Ghana fell victim to such sanction in 2014 when it was at the top of the European Commission’s Alert List of developing countries with poor interception records. This led to a voluntary ban on the vegetable sub sector by MOFA in the second half of 2014 until the latter part of 2017 when the ban was lifted (Yeray et al., 2016). Ideally the ban was to address, improve and ensure the vegetable sub-sector compliance to Sanitary and Phytosanitary Status (SPS) standards. The ban however did not solve the problem as very little changed structurally and a high number of interception of exported vegetables was recorded immediately after lifting the ban (Yeray et al., 2016). This suggests that merely imposing a ban is ineffective unless the core issues of food quality and safety are well implemented and managed.

In discussing about the quality and safety of vegetables produced in Ghana, the influence of institutional or regulatory environment on the production of quality food cannot be ignored.

Institutions are widely used practices of social interaction that have become embedded such that it is costly to choose alternative practices, technologies, or rules (Friel et al., 2009). These structures can either drive or inhibit the production of quality food products as they control the adherence to standards of the various producers and stakeholders. Food safety in the emerging and developing countries are significantly determined by the influence of such institutional bodies (Weigl, 2008). The food regulations controlled and enforced by regulatory bodies must be strict to prevent unsuspecting consumers from consuming unsafe food. If the regulations are lax, food produced may not be safe leading to food poisoning and other threats to human health (Mougeot, 1994). With regard to vegetable production in Ghana, regulatory institutions such as the Ghana Export Marketing and Quality Awareness Project (EMQAP), a division under Ministry of Food and Agriculture has attempted to educate farmers on the procedures to ensure that their produce is safe for consumption. The farmers however are not implementing what has been taught in order for their produce to conform to set quality standards (MoFA, 2014).

The World Development Report (2008) considers agriculture an instrument that ensures economic growth in countries by the supply of quality foods for human consumption. Ensuring then that agriculture is boosted by the production of good quality and safe farm produce will greatly elevate the economies of developing countries such as Ghana. It is therefore necessary to evaluate the stakeholders, especially regulatory institutions, that ensure the realization of this safety and to put the required adjustments in place.

1.2 Problem Statement
A major challenge resulting in the production of poor quality vegetables in Ghana is the institutional environment marred with structural inefficiencies (Friel et al., 2009). Institutional environment here refers to the relevant regulatory bodies who ensure food quality and safety.

This has exacerbated the difficulties in complying with food safety measures. The use of waste water to grow vegetables in the peri-urban communities in Ghana for example tends to be an agro-practice that obviously affects the health of consumers as the possibility of contaminating the harvested crop is very high. This problem in particular seems to persist due to unfavorable and inefficient institutional structures existent in Ghana. There is also the issue of compliance cost or burden especially with small-scale farmers who are unable to meet the financial commitment associated with putting safety and quality measures in place. Developed countries like Germany and France who are part of the European Union have established strong and active institutions that govern the supply of vegetables to their countries. This is not same for developing counties who tend to be their suppliers. Although, some studies have been conducted on the regulatory environment and how they drive food safety in some advanced economies, not enough research has been done in developing countries such as Ghana on how these institutions affect the production and supply of quality and safe fresh farm produce. (Cummins and Macintyre, 2006; Yeh et al., 2008).

This study would fill the literature gap, on research done on the impact of institutional environment (regulatory bodies) on the production of quality vegetables in Ghana, by investigating this impact of the institutional environment in the Ga South municipality of Ghana. The findings and results of this study is expected to provide a valuable insight and guide to farmers, exporters and Ministry of Food and Agriculture on how to improve the quality of fruits and vegetable production. Again, the outcome of the study would guide the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in creating the necessary institutional framework or model that will enhance food safety and quality standards for exports in Ghana. The research would also address some of the critical issues regarding food safety particularly involving vegetables. The study would serve as a basis for future studies on the subject matter.

1.4 Objectives and Specific Objectives
The general objective of the study is to assess the effects of institutional environment (regulatory bodies) on the quality of vegetables produced in the Ga South Municipality of Ghana.

The specific objectives are outlined below:

To assess the perceptions of vegetable exporters on the effects of regulatory environment in the Ga South Municipality of Ghana.

To assess the perceptions of regulatory bodies (Ghana Standard Authority, Environmental protection Agency and Food and Drug Authority, Plant Protection and Regulatory Directorate of Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Agricultural Extension Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Ga South Municipal Assembly) on the effects of regulatory environment (regulations and standards) on the quality of vegetables produced in the study area.

To examine the views of farmers on the effects of institutional environment on the quality of vegetables produced in the Ga South Municipality of Ghana.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 85 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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