The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), have called on poultry farmers to comply with the standards set by the GSA on poultry production, particularly egg production and supply.
The standards include specifications for poultry feed, code of hygiene for eggs and egg products and specifications for edible eggs-in-shell.
They made the call at a Stakeholder Sensitisation Forum on "Standards for Edible Eggs-in-shell" organised by the Ghana National Egg Campaign Secretariat (GNECS), the Ghana Poultry Project of the USDA, Women in Poultry Value Chain and the Egg Sellers Association of Ghana, on Thursday in Accra.
The forum was attended by stakeholders in the poultry production and supply value chain including feed millers, poultry farmers, egg sellers, and input dealers.
Mr Samuel Kwatia, of the GSA, speaking on the general requirements for eggs, said eggs-in-shell should not be damaged, and must not contain visible foreign matter at candling.
It is also not to have a soiled shell except in a specific category, an odour, surface moisture, and should not be musty, mouldy, or adulterated.
He said standardisation was necessary for the poultry sector to ensure consumer protection and satisfaction, and offer the opportunity to producers to be rewarded for producing good quality products.
It was also to enable local poultry to meet standards for exports to regional and international markets and local consumption.
Mr Kwatia added that standard in the Poultry sector could help to reduce the cost of production and form the basis for pricing.
"Don't wash your eggs before storing them because that could predispose them to bacterial infection. Please store eggs within an area with constant or stable temperature and humidity," he advised.
Madam Comfort Acheampong of the GNECS said poultry farmers and the nation at large years ago were battling with low patronage of eggs for consumption, hence a National Egg Campaign was initiated.
"There were so many myths surrounding why people were not eating eggs. In three regions, they said when they give children eggs, they will become thieves, hence people ate eggs only once in a month," he said.
After the campaign, she said a survey conducted by the Poultry Farmers Association indicated that currently, every citizen consumed 150 eggs every year, which was a good step.
Madam Acheampong said GNECS was established afterwards to create a sustainable momentum for the egg market and enlighten the public on its benefits, adding that they were seeking funding to commence an advertisement to promote sustainable eggs.
Madam Elizabeth Nkrumah, National President, Egg Sellers Association of Ghana, said the standardization would help to ensure that quality eggs were produced.
"Sometimes the eggs that we get are so soft to an extent that you can't even boil them, so we the sellers struggle to sell them because our customers complain a lot. The farmers have to feed the chickens well to make them healthy enough to produce quality eggs," she advised.
Madam Carianne de Boer, Chief of Party, Ghana Poultry Project, said the USDA supported the initiative which was a collaborative and collective effort from all stakeholders including policymakers, to reach out to more people in the value chain to produce eggs that met standards and could be exported.
"It will promote standardization in the egg market especially on producing clean and quality eggs so that consumers can get value for money," she said.
She explained that to prevent miscommunication, the USDA sponsored pictorial knowledge on producing quality eggs to be disseminated to stakeholder in the value chain nationwide.
Madam Victoria Norgbey, the President, Women in Poultry Value Chain, said the participants of the forum were selected because their activities directed affected the standards of eggs that were produced.
"If you don't have good poultry feed, it can affect your eggs, if you don't have good day-old chicks, it can affect the standard of eggs that you produce as well as the inputs we use," she said.