case study Using digital traceability to increase food safety and regain trust




The Ghanaian horticultural sector exports 70,000 tons of fruits and 20,000 tons of vegetables annually. The agricultural industry, composed mainly of smallholder enterprises, employs more than 50% of the country’s labor force.



The European Union (EU) imposed an embargo on fruits and vegetables from Ghana in response to several cases of contamination. Losses to the country’s economy have been estimated at $15 million annually. From 2012 to 2015, the number of plants from Ghana intercepted at EU borders due to the presence of  harmful organisms increased significantly, leading Ghana to face the highest number of interceptions globally in 2015. In October 2015, the European Commission decided to prohibit the introduction of five plant commodities from Ghana into the EU market until the end of December 2016.



Ghana must find solutions to improve the safety of these products and regain the confidence of the European Commission.



To help solve this issue and provide a truly effective solution, OPTEL’s Geotraceability experts partnered with a number of reputable organizations and concerned
stakeholders. This project was finance by USAID and IESC.

The result was a complete, user-centric traceability system that covers all the steps required for the exportation of fruits and vegetables (F&V) and includes all the operators in a multistakeholder value chain.

It encompasses:

  • Inspection of exporters, packhouses, growers and fields
  • Crop cycle and fieldwork monitoring, including planting, plant protection and harvesting
  • F&V traceability from field to packhouse
  • Traceability during packing operations, including reception, lot creation (linking input and output) and evacuation
  • Traceability from packhouse to export point (airport)
  • Linking traceability data with phytosanitary certificate and export documentation
  • Centralized cloud data repository for data sharing, viewing, analysis and report generation



  • The export sector can be more competitive and generate more revenues by having access to digital services.
  • Through data sharing and storytelling, the solution facilitates compliance, audit, supplier improvement and food safety, and creates value for all parties, from the grower to the consumer (farm to fork).
  • The solution has helped establish a public-private partnership to improve visibility and transparency.
  • Exporting geotraceable fruits and vegetables can open new markets and trigger higher prices. This will generate higher tax revenues for the State and
    profit margins for the exporters, allowing for greater reinvestment in the value chain.
  • Improving product quality and availability, controlling pests and diseases, improving post-harvest operations, etc.
  • Each small-scale grower will also benefit from the data collected on their production. Their personal and cumulative records will allow them to improve their
    practices, reduce costs and increase revenues. The system can inform them on what specific crop is needed, when, and what the market prices are. Field
    extensionist support will be facilitated by having access to digitized historical data that could be coupled with weather and soil data.
  • The system can also help control unauthorized and counterfeit chemicals.
  • Digital services will considerably reduce audit costs for all parties.


  • The European Commision lifted the ban on Ghana’s vegetable exports on January 1, 2018.
  • Ghana now complies with EU phytosanitary legislation to eliminate the presence of quarantine pests.


OPTEL’s Geotraceability software is currently used in 17 countries in similar contexts and for various products. The solution has been tried and tested in all these cases and has a very successful track record.


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Real-world applications of traceability solutions. OPTEL is a multinational traceability solution provider helping Fortune 500 companies tackle food fraud challenges and improve supply chain visibility.