SEYCHELLES – Seychelles is set to evaluate its food control system in the next months to bring it in line with internationally recognized standards, as part of its efforts to close the gap between domestic production capacity and importation.

Producers of food and food safety officers from the island nation are participating in a five-day training supported by the European Union in order to adopt a facilitated assessment of high-quality food that is produced or imported into the nation.

The Public Health Authority, the Seychelles Bureau of Standards, and the Disaster and Risk Management Division are among the participants in the workshop.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food control systems will be used to conduct the assessment.

A tool like this is crucial, especially given how heavily Seychelles depends on food imports, according to Flavien Joubert, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change, and Environment, who opened the session.

“As a small island, we depend on the global food production and distribution system for a significant portion of our food basket. Almost 90 percent of our food commodities are imported including our staple, which collectively accounts to close to 30 percent of our importation bill,” said Joubert.

The Minister added that “while we remain aspirational in our intent to narrow the gap between local production capacity and importation, we are also realistic that Seychelles will continue to depend on food exporting countries to contribute towards our food and nutrition security agenda.”

The training and evaluation are a component of the recently ratified FAO and EU project on “Strengthening Food Control and Phytosanitary Capabilities and Governance.”

The project calls for the use of the FAO/WHO food control system assessment tool to support the evaluation of the national food control system in eight African Union (AU) member nations, as reported by Seychelles News Agency.

As it fits into the framework of Seychelles’ agriculture sector and public health sector plans, Joubert claimed that this training could not have come at a better moment or under more favorable circumstances.

“Both sector strategies call for and accentuate healthy populations. We have seen a shift in the domestic dietary pattern with consequential impact in terms of an increase in overweight and obesity cases across all segments of the population, and also an increase in non-communicable diseases,” he explained.

The workshop’s organizer, Catherine Bessy, a Senior Food Safety Officer for the FAO, noted that while other nations are opting to utilize it for trial purposes, the project’s assessment tool has been used in Western countries during the pilot stages.

The workshop will end on Friday, December 2, and a national strategic plan for the food control system will be developed following the assessment process, which will take a few months.

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