BOSNIA – The European Union(EU) has furnished  the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country which is yet to join the EU community, with more than 30 vehicles to aid in phytosanitary inspections as well as food controls and monitoring.

The 33 new off-road vehicles worth €467,000 (US$540,000) will be used by authorities in the country to support alignment with EU standards. They will help in accelerating the monitoring process in the food and feed value chain, shorten the sampling time during border inspections and cut on time spent on issuing phytosanitary certificates.

The handing over ceremony was presided by Johann Sattler, head of the delegation of the European Union and EU special representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina who handed over the keys to Džemil Hajrić, director of the Food Safety Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Šemsudin Dedić, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Anis Ajdinović, director of the Administration for Inspection Affairs.

Sattler said ensuring safe food makes the supply chain stable and viable adding that food control and safety are of paramount importance for the EU market, which has over half a billion consumers and over 45 million employees in the agricultural and food sectors.

“I call on the authorities in the sector to continue the professionalization of phytosanitary services, the improvement of phytosanitary control, the regulation of the internal market in line with the EU market and the harmonization of legislation with the legislation and phytosanitary standards of the European Union,” he said.

Ongoing capacity building

The European Union is building capacity in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary sectors,  through several ongoing projects. There are three projects worth €6 million (US$6.9 million) aiming to strengthen the official agencies and align the sectors with EU legislation.

Using pre-accession funds, the EU will get equipment such as laptops and printers for authorities working in the phytosanitary inspection and food safety and monitoring sectors in the country.

Hajrić said the donation will help the food safety sector in the country pointing out that the EU will help the country bolster its capacities for the implementation of new legislation.

“We already have a project worth €1.5 million (US$1.7 million) in the implementation phase, which is already bringing certain results, and with additional IT equipment provided by the EU, we will be able to meet all our tasks in the sector of food safety in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.

According to Food Safety News, fifteen vehicles have already been given to the Inspectorate of Republika Srpska and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska, while the other four will be provided soon to the Brčko district.

Ajdinović said it will help strengthen the control system and enable consumers to have healthy and quality food.

“This is about consumers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also consumers in the EU, because Bosnia and Herzegovina exports more and more to EU countries every day. These vehicles will improve cross-border and internal control, and inspectors will be more mobile in reaching the businesses that export and supply the Bosnia and Herzegovina market with food,” he voiced.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Safety Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food safety, quality and compliance. SUBSCRIBE HERE