Increased intra-African trade in agricultural commodities and services can help reduce Africa’s annual food import bill, currently over US$80 billion, by local sourcing of import substitutes while at the same time expanding agricultural exports from a base of about US$60 billion per year.
Representatives drawn from governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, regional bodies and agricultural value chain associations from East Africa met for a three-day training workshop, from 29- 31 2022 August, on Food Safety and Coordination on Border Regulations towards improving the safe trade of agro-food commodities in the region. Organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for Eastern Africa and the Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority (NCTTCA); the training workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity of East African countries to comply with food safety, animal and plant health standards, and requirements to facilitate safe trade. The workshop explored the linkages between Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical barriers to trade agreements vis-a-vis trade facilitation.
Speaking on behalf of FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Priya Gujadhur, Deputy Representative for FAO in Uganda, stressed the need for stakeholders in the agro-food value chain to meet appropriate food safety and quality requirements to trade regionally and internationally. Governments apply such standards to ensure food safety, protect animal, plant and environmental health, and meet the desired quality requirements of trade commodities.
Gujadhur further stated that food safety is at the heart of FAO’s work, supporting the achievement of Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment, and a Better Life, leaving no one behind. “Food safety is a shared responsibility. There is no better time than this for the Eastern African region to harness efforts to improve food safety, promote cross-border food trade, and benefit from opportunities arising from the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Zero hunger will not be achieved without food safety, as if it is not safe, it is not food”.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the NCTTCA, Omae Nyarandi, noted that Eastern Africa owns several Trade and Transport Corridors such as the Central and the Northern Corridors. The Corridors provide access to markets, connect countries and provide access to seaports for the landlocked countries and play a critical role in facilitating both intra-African and international trade. “Improving food safety and our border regulations will go a long way in attracting external markets to our region and therefore ultimately determining the volumes of commodities traded between the trading partners at any given time,” Nyarandi added.
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