By Nelson Manneh
The Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA) in collaboration with AU IBAR, has embarked on a four-day training workshop in capacity building for members of the National Codex Committee (NCC). The workshop is to enhance the capacities of NCC members on their understanding of the three international organizations that set procedures and they are The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), Codex Alimentations Commission and the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE). The four-day capacity building workshop commenced on Monday, 25th September 2017.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Vice President, Madam Nancy Nyang, said Government was aware of the importance of the standard setting bodies in national food control systems because of their concern on safety and quality of food produced, imported and consumed. She said it is because of this concern that government has established the Food Safety and Quality Authority (FSQA).
“This Authority is responsible for the overall official and control of the safety and quality of food including water, beverages and animal feed along the food chain, from production up to it’s supply to the final consumer,’’ she said. She continued: “During this forum a whole day will be dedicated to the development of a five -year strategic plan and a comprehensive SPS agenda, work programme and budget for the coming years. This strategic plan is expected to enhance food safety and quality and more comprehensively address animal and plant health. This will be in line with embracing the concept of the bio-security approach that ensures linkages between food safety, animal and plant health,” she concluded.
A representative from the AU IBAR, Dr Mphumuzi Sukati said Standards are crucial for the development of any nation and undoubtedly form the basis for trade or public health protection. Sukati said countries with strong culture of compliance to standards, have experienced enhanced consumer protection, better market access for their products and have experienced increased economic development. He said the African continent is endowed with vast agricultural resources. “The full potential of using agriculture to drive economic development on the continent, is yet to be realized,” he said.
Mr. Lamin Jobe, a representative from GIEPA and the Acting Director of Business Development is also a member of the Codex Committee. Mr. Jobe explained that African countries including The Gambia, have been experiencing challenges hindering effective participation in international SPS and Codex meetings due to inadequate knowledge of the standard setting processes of the International Standard Setting Organization and lack of funding for SPS and other codex activities.