RWANDA – Rwanda has marked a significant milestone as high-level policymakers concluded two crucial assessments of the country’s food control and phytosanitary systems.

In Kigali, consensus workshops saw the endorsement of recommendations from the final reports of the assessments. The government’s commitment to implementing strategic plans signifies a pivotal step toward fortifying food safety measures.

The assessments were conducted with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Systems and Food Safety division and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.

This collaborative effort falls under the ambit of the “Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control” project, a 5-million-dollar initiative funded by the European Union (EU).

The EU-funded project employs two cutting-edge tools—the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment and the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE).

These tools empower countries, in this case, 11 African Union (AU) member countries, to assess and enhance their food control systems and phytosanitary capacities. The overarching goal is to align with international harmonized standards, fostering safe trade and improving food security in the region.

Alexis Kabayiza, the national coordinator of the food control assessment, highlighted the complementary nature of the two assessments.

He emphasized that they work in tandem, providing Rwanda with a comprehensive understanding of its position concerning international standards. This knowledge, he noted, enables the country to position itself for safe international trade.

Strengthening technical capacity and workforce skills

Over the next few months, a total of 17 assessments will be completed across the 11 participating AU member countries.

Kenya and Seychelles recently concluded their assessments whereas Zimbabwe finalized its data validation phase.

The project focuses on enhancing technical capacity and expanding the skills and knowledge of the national workforce involved in food control and phytosanitary systems. This approach fosters a shared vision among competent authorities and stakeholders, contributing to continuous improvement.

Part of the EU’s broader initiatives to bolster sanitary and phytosanitary capacities, the costed plans resulting from this project aim to support the newly established Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

By improving public health and trade opportunities in the region, these efforts align with broader goals of economic collaboration and growth.

James Mushayija, PCE National Coordinator and Plant Health Specialist, emphasized the holistic impact of the assessments.

Identifying gaps through phytosanitary capacity evaluations contributes to implementing trade facilitation measures and supports overall trade safety and food security in the country.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.