Agri-business Business

‘Let’s harmonise sanitary, food regulation’

KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
THERE is need to harmonise sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) regulatory frameworks aimed at addressing food security, food health and trade and industrial development in the region, COMESA assistant secretary general Nagla El Hussainy has said.
During the seventh Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) technical meeting on SPS, Ms El Hussainy said trade within COMESA, Southern African Development Community and East African Community grew from US$30.6 billion in 2004 to US$102.6 billion.
“Despite this growth, only about 12 percent of Africa’s trade is intra-regional. Most of the trade is with countries outside our regions. In comparison, intra trade is almost 22 percent for South America, 40 percent for North America, 50 percent for Asia and 70 percent for Europe”.
“The low intra trade is not surprising, given the varied SPS standards and regulatory frameworks across member states and the low levels of compliance amongst regional small-medium enterprises. SPS matters are a priority under the regional agricultural framework and should be addressed through harmonisation and enhanced private sector skills and compliance,” she said.
And Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa said investments in SPS capacity is still low with most countries lacking coherence in the establishment of SPS priorities and related investments.
“There is definitely need for a coherent and prioritised regional plan for the enhancement of SPS capacity to guide Government, donors, and private sector investments,” he said.
Mr Shawa said it is saddening to note that most countries, including Zambia, are faced with a number of challenges including the overall low level of awareness on SPS.
“There are also weaknesses in the legislative frameworks, inadequate capacities required to monitor and enforce food safety, plant health and animal health regulations”.
“Weak coordination, with the fragmentation of responsibilities within institutions responsible for food safety, plant health and animal health,” he said.

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