ESWATINI – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has kicked off its “Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control,” in Eswatini to improve the kingdom’s food control system.
The 5-million-euro project funded by the European Union, which began just two months ago, is set to provide technical support and work with Competent Authorities and other leading institutions in 12 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Member Countries to build up capabilities, strengthen governance and improve strategic planning around food safety and plant health.
Eswatini is the third country where the project is being implemented after the two island nations of Comoros and Seychelles.
As part of the food safety component, an assessment of the national food control system will be carried out.
A team of food safety experts from FAO will work closely with local Competent Authorities for food safety and relevant stakeholders, to assess the effectiveness of the national food control system and to develop strategies to improve the country’s public health and economic development.
The project, co-signed by the Government of Eswatini, is carried out in close cooperation with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture and is in line with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa created by the African Union (AU) to promote trade among AU Member States (AUC DARBE).
Project inception and focus point training
Since Eswatini joined the FAO in 1971, there has been a long-standing relationship between the two organizations.
With this project, FAO is making the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool available to Eswatini.
This unique instrument, whose use is steadily growing, is made to evaluate the national food control system thoroughly by taking into account every link in the food supply chain, including production, distribution, the retail market, and consumers.
“The country is desirous of enhancing its competitiveness and participation in international trade. This workshop and assessment mission could not have come at a better time,” Sydney Simelane, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of Eswatini stated, thanking the FAO and WHO for developing and introducing the tool.
He called on all stakeholders to cooperate fully in the next phase of the project as it will be beneficial to the government and businesses and will “enable the opening of this window for the export of Eswatini products internationally.”
As part of the evaluation, a group of FAO specialists will work with Eswatini’s Competent Authorities in food safety to complete a number of assessment procedures. This work will result in the preparation of a set of recommendations and a tactical framework to make their implementation easier.
The project intends to help Eswatini adhere to international standards that will promote increased regional trade and harmonization.
The training included presentations, discussions, and case studies to instruct the focal points of the Competent Authorities on the technical aspects of the Tool as well as their respective roles and activities in the project’s later phases.
The activities included data collection across the whole food control system.