ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe, along with 10 other countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), is set to benefit from a £5 million project funded by the European Union titled “Strengthening food control and phytosanitary capacities and governance”.

The project aims to enhance food safety and plant health while fostering trade among African Union member states.

It will provide technical support by collaborating with competent authorities and leading institutions in the 11 countries. The primary objective is to build capabilities, strengthen governance, and improve strategic planning related to food safety and plant health. 

By working closely with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture, the project aims to promote sustainable agricultural practices across the region.

During the launch of the Assessment of Zimbabwe’s National Food Control System using the Food and Agricultural Organisation/World Health Organisation (FAO/WHO) Food Control System Assessment Tool in Harare, Victor Nyamandi, the Director of Health Ministry’s Environmental Health Services, emphasized the project’s significance. 

The initiative not only aims to increase food safety and public health but also boost trade among African Union member states, specifically within the COMESA region.

National food control system assessment in Zimbabwe

The FAO and WHO have been actively supporting the strengthening of food safety and control systems worldwide. 

In response to the need for a tool that systematically assesses a country’s food control system, the Food Control System Assessment Tool was developed in 2019. 

This tool enables countries to evaluate their food control system’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement throughout the entire food chain. By measuring and tracking progress over time, the tool facilitates structured, transparent, and measurable assessments.

As part of the project’s food safety component, an assessment of Zimbabwe’s national food control system will be carried out.

 A team of food safety experts from FAO will collaborate closely with Zimbabwe’s local competent authorities and relevant stakeholders. 

Their objective is to assess the effectiveness of the national food control system, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies to enhance public health and economic development. 

This assessment follows a previous one conducted in 2016, making Zimbabwe the first country to re-assess its food control system using the FAO/WHO assessment tool after several years.

Promoting safer food and competitive market position

The project’s launch signifies Zimbabwe’s commitment to improving its national food control system.

The country aims to develop a national food safety strategic plan that enhances public health and makes its food products more competitive in the global market by identifying system strengths and weaknesses.

Zimbabwe acknowledges the continued support of the FAO country office in strengthening its food control system.

The £5 million project funded by the European Union is not only benefiting Zimbabwe but also supporting 10 other COMESA countries. 

In strengthening food safety and plant health capacities, this initiative aims to enhance regional cooperation, foster trade, and contribute to the overall development of the African Union’s member states. 

The project’s implementation began in November 2022 and is currently underway in seven COMESA countries including UgandaKenyaComorosSeychelles, the Kingdom of EswatiniRwanda, as well as in Mauritius.

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