QUALITY CONTROL UNIT
The produce inspection unit (PIU) was established in 1964 by the legislative Act of government under the Department of Commerce an Industry with a mandate to handle the examination, grading, sealing and inspection of all agricultural crops meant for export
These crops include cocoa, coffee, palm oil, palm kernels, piassava, ginger, Bennie seed (sesame) rice, cotton, etc.
The unit has also a residual function of revenue collection through the issuance of produce certificates/ licenses.
However, in 1966 in order to place great emphasis on the production aspect with the view to improving the quality and quantity of our produce to meet world market standards, an amendment of the Native Produce Inspection rules (as it was called), was made in parliament and renamed the Agricultural Act (Cap 185). There and then the unit was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture where it has been until its transfer to the Produce Monitoring Board under the Ministry of Trade and industry.
The activities of the unit have been expanded and are classed under three categories viz:-
- Extension service- this includes providing resources for farmers, Inspection of stores for the storage of produce (Store certification) and monitoring.
- Examination, grading and sealing of agricultural produce for export.
- Training of farmers – Training of Field staff and Sensitization Programmes
(d) Revenue collection
The produce Inspection Unit (PIU) and the Produce Monitoring Unit constitute the Quality Control Unit of the Produce Monitoring Board.
The Produce Inspection Unit is responsible for the Inspection, examination and grading of all agricultural produce meant for export, provide extension services to key stakeholders on quality enhancement measures as well as revenue collection through issuance of produce licenses.
The Produce Monitoring Unit is responsible for ensuring that Quality Control measures are implemented as prescribed in the Agricultural ordinance and give comprehensive appreciation in the commodity market.
One of the main areas covered by the inspectorate unit is the provision of extension services to farmers in the bid to induce them to concentrate on high yield productivity, quality assurance, and new market search. These areas include;
- Formation of Farmer Cooperatives
- The provision of food for work
- Soft Loan schemes or cost recovery Loans
- Nursery and seedling distribution
- Pest and decreases control
Farmers’ cooperatives are organized membership of producers wishing to take advantage of group work, unlike individual. These farmers obtain seeds from the PMB and make larger plantations for a possible increase in yield. PMB is insisting on dealing with cooperatives than.
Food for work is an expression – support given to farmers to improve the quality of production. This is an intervention from the PMB against the unfair loans* produce buyers grant to the farmer during the preseason. Farm owners or pilot farmers receive a specified quantity of foodstuffs from the PMB to induce them to accomplish their farming activities for that season. It may include under brushing, replanting of seedlings, application of pesticides or disease control and processing.
Loan Schemes are also similar to food for work where farmers granted cost recovery loans for their farming activities.
Nursery and seedling distribution The PMB has nursery sites around the country and distribute seedlings from those farms to farmers (normally 2000 seeds per cooperative).
Pest and decreases control. The quality control staff are tasked with the duty to assist farmers to identify pests and diseases and help them upgrade their farming methods to mitigate the malaise.
*loans taken by the farmer during the wet season when farmers run dry.
Training programmes are ongoing covering a variety of farming activities including
- Radio discussions
- Operational and Market Research
- New farming techniques
Cocoa which is thoroughly dry, free from extraneous matter (s) and from smoky or black beans, and contains not more than 15% defective beans, which shall be inclusive of not more than 5% by count of mold beans, shall be declared fit for export. Cocoa which is fit for export shall be graded as follows:
Cocoa which contains not more than 15% by count, of defective, bean including Unfermented and/or insufficiently fermented beans -provided that the defective, beans so included shall not exceed 5% by count.
Cocoa which does not qualify for Grade I, but which contains not more than 30% by count, inclusive, of defective, unfermented and/or insufficiently fermented beans –
Provided that the defective beans so included shall not exceed 4% by count, of mold beans. Bean count for both grades should be 100g/100beans.
Coffee which is thoroughly dry, clean, and free from extraneous matter and from all trace of mustiness and which contains not more than 30% by count of defective beans shall be declared fit for export.
Coffee which is fit for export shall be graded as follows:
Robusta F A Q
Coffee which is of Robusta type and which is free from admixture of other varieties of coffee and which contains not more than 10% by count of defective beans
Ginger shall be thoroughly dry and plump, shall have the peel removed from both sides of the “hand”, and shall be sufficiently free from adult insects to ensure its commercial soundness and entirely free from insect larvae, mildew, sand, and other extraneous matter. Such ginger shall be declared to be of “standard quality”.
Ginger which has been declared to be of “standard quality” shall be deemed fit for export.
Ginger of “standard quality” may be graded as follows:
The ginger shall be completely peeled and shall be thoroughly clean and dry and shall be plump bold and pale buff in appearance, free from small broken pieces and free from adult insects’ larvae, mildew, peelings, sand, and other extraneous matter.
All other ginger of “standard quality”.
After examination, grading of the cocoa, coffee, and ginger, the produce examiner shall cause the product to be bagged in new clean dry bags having no holes, sewn and sealed with an approved seal and stamp
For the purpose of exercising his powers under these rules, an inspector or examiner may, at any time, with or without assistance:
- Enter any building, premise or market in or on which there is, or is believed to be, any product intended for sale or export;
- Stop any vehicle, vessel, boat or canoe in which produce is being, or is believed to be, conveyed
- Examine any produce which had not already been inspected and passed or graded under these Rules and take samples thereof.
An inspector or examiner or Produce Monitor may seize and detain.
- Any produce in respect of which he may suspect that an offense under these rules has been, or is intended to be, committed and bring such products or samples thereof to a court;
- Any receptacle containing any such produce;
- Any vehicle, vessel, boat, in or on which such products may be found:
- Any adulterated produce:
- Any article or thing by means of which an offense against these rules may have been committed.
When any product shall be seized, detained under the powers conferred by this rule, and the Inspector or Examiner, having examined such produce, is of the opinion that the same does not conform to the standard laid down in these Rules or that is adulterated, he may seize and detain such produce pending the conclusion of any prosecution and the period within which any appeal arising out of such prosecution may be brought and pending the determination of any such appeal – provided that should such prosecution not be instituted within fourteen days of the seizure and detention, the produce, receptacle, vehicle, vessel, boat or canoe shall be released.
When any such produce, receptacle, vehicle, vessel, has been so seized and detained and the owner thereof is unknown or cannot be found, a complaint may be laid before a court. The Court may then cause notice to be given, in such a manner as it may deem fit, that, unless cause is shown to the contrary at the time and place named in such notice, such produce, receptacle, vehicle, vessel or canoe will be forfeited: and at such time and place the Court, unless cause is shown to the contrary, may order the forfeiture of the produce, receptacle, vehicle, and vessel.
In any proceedings under the contrary, to have intended to sell or export such produce;
- With the possession of any adulterated produce for sale or export shall be presumed, unless he proves the contrary, to have intended to sell or export such produce;
- With the possession for export of any agriculture produce of inferior of quality to that prescribed by these Rules, the Court may, in addition to inflicting any other penalty, revoke such person’s licenses.
- Where a person (by himself or his servant or agent) has been convicted of an offense against any Rule the Court may, in addition to inflicting any other penalty, revoke such person’s licenses.
Notwithstanding any such rules contained in the proceeding sub-rule, the Commodity Market Monitoring Unit may in its absolute discretion refuse to grant any license or may cancel, suspend, modify or restrict any license.