AFRICA – Codex Member States from the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region have during a workshop underpinned the need for adoption and implementation of internationally recognized Codex standards which are key in supporting fair food trade and protecting the health and safety of consumers.

The 18 Member States met in Kigali, Rwanda as part of the initiatives to enhance Codex work management within the Member States on the continent.

They include Botswana, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.

The major objective of the regional workshop was to undertake an assessment of the status of operation and performance of Codex Contact Points (CCPs) and National Codex Committees (NCC) of the Eastern and Southern African Regions.

It also purposed to examine the level of participation of Member States including key actors in Codex activities, as well as provide a platform to share experiences and best practices of management of Codex activities from the different countries.

During the opening of the workshop, the Director General of Rwanda Standards Board, Mr. Raymond Murenzi, remarked that the value of international trade in agricultural and food products was steadily increasing, almost five-fold in the last three decades.

He observed that the increase is expected to continue hence the need for adoption and implementation of internationally recognized Codex standards which are key in supporting fair food trade and protecting the health and safety of consumers.

The Vice Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Dr. Allan Azegele underscored the timeliness of the regional workshop as it supports achieving specifically Goal 3; Increase impact through the recognition and use of Codex standards and Goal 4; Facilitate the participation of all Codex Members throughout the standard setting process as provided in the Codex Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025.

The Coordinator for Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA), Mr. Hakim Mufumbiro, highlighted the need for Member States in the ESA region to enhance their effective participation in food safety and Codex activities while leveraging on the available resources provided through the Codex Trust Fund to build strong, solid and sustainable National Codex systems.

National Codex structure

On behalf of the Ag. Director, African Union – InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Mr. John Oppong-Otoo, the Food Safety Officer at AU-IBAR emphasized the importance of Codex standards on the continent in spurring intra-Africa trade as envisaged in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

He further highlighted the relevance of building strong networks in the region and urged Member States to always seek out capacity building support in areas related to food safety and Codex systems.

The regional Codex work management workshop was supported by AU-IBAR, which is the African Union Commission’s (AUC) Codex Contact Point, as well as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

The main outcome of the workshop was the adoption of the model national Codex structure by the Member States from the two regions. It was also recommended at the session to coordinate a continental mentorship/twinning program and exchange visits between the Member States in Africa to build capacities and enhance Codex work management and tailor support for the specific Member States with low participation in Codex work.

Members States were encouraged to strengthen or establish their national Codex structures using the adopted model national Codex structure, to intensify sensitization and awareness of experts, policymakers, and all relevant stakeholders on the importance of Codex activities including celebration of World Food Safety Day (WFSD) 2022.

They were also urged to take up leadership roles in electronic working groups (EWGs) especially for priority Codex issues, to participate in ongoing work at the Commission, Executive Committee and CCAFRICA and to take advantage of the support provided through the Codex Trust Fund.

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