UGANDA – Uganda has taken over from Kenya as the new Coordinator for the Food and Agriculture Organization / World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA).
CCAFRICA was established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in 1972 with a mandate to exercise general coordination in the preparation of standards relating to the region of Africa.
The CAC during its 43rd meeting held virtually in November 2020, appointed Uganda to take the Coordinator mantle through its Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).
During the CCAFRICA strategic Meeting at Protea Hotel in Entebbe-Uganda, the UNBS Executive Director, Mr. David Livingstone Ebiru said that UNBS services and activities contribute significantly to fostering food safety in Uganda.
According to him, food Safety is generally structured along five main elements; food law and legislation, food control management, inspection services, laboratory services and information, education, communication and training. UNBS contributes to four of these.
“To date, 1,082 Uganda Standards have been developed in the area of Food and Agriculture and these provide requirements for ensuring quality and safe food. The availability of food standards has enabled Uganda to develop its Quality infrastructure, which has subsequently helped to penetrate key markets in the various food sectors,” he said.
He revealed that of these 1,082 standards, 150 are directly adopted from Codex including reference to the Codex online database for pesticides to support testing of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in different commodities prior to placement on the market.
Uganda has been a member of Codex since 1964 and this marks the second time CAC is appointing Uganda to coordinate its activities in Africa, following its first appointment 20 years ago; from 1999 to 2003.
The appointment will raise awareness of food safety issues through Codex, such as strengthening the food control system in the country and improving quality and safety of locally traded food commodities,
It will also increase public awareness on standards for food products elaborated by Codex, positioning Uganda to have an improved access to regional and international markets.
Codex standards key enablers of trade
As the new coordinator, UNBS is represented by Mr. Hakim Mufumbiro, the Head of Food and Agriculture Standards Division at the Standards body. He says, the Focus is on strategic penetration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“During our tenure as coordinators, great attention will be given to generating regional priorities through a consultative process taking into consideration the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January 2021 which is a turning point for the African Continent,” he said.
He highlighted that food standards elaborated through the Codex system will be key enablers in facilitating trade in food and agriculture commodities and product across the continent. This will ensure that the health of the over 1.3 billion Africans on the continent is protected.
Addressing the delegates at the meeting, Ms. Awilo Ochieng Pernet, the Former Chairperson of CODEX Alimentarius Commission urged the CCAFRICA Member states to build networks with relevant stakeholders to achieve a lasting impact on food safety, public health, wealth and social welfare of the people.
Uganda appreciates the great effort and contribution made by Kenya as coordinators of Codex in Africa for the last 5 years and pledges to build on the momentum generated in the region in order to raise the profile of Food safety and Codex on the Continent.
Thus far, Uganda is the only country in Africa, which has co-hosted two CODEX committee meetings in the last 10 years.
As the new coordinators, Uganda will host the 24th CCAFRICA meeting in September 2022 in Kampala physically, that will progress ongoing work.
Some of the current projects include the draft regional standard for dried meat, draft guidelines for developing harmonized Food Safety legislation for CCAFRICA Region as well capacity building activities supported by FAO and WHO.
CAC was established by FAO and WHO in 1963, charged with developing international food standards to promote food quality and safety with the aim of protecting consumers’ health and ensuring fair practices in the food trade.
It currently comprises of 189 members, which include 188 member countries and the European Union.