Nairobi, 16th January, 2017...African countries have been called upon to adopt and harmonise international quality infrastructure with a goal to tackle food safety challenges bedeviling the continent.
Speaking during the CCAfrica Food Standards conference in Nairobi, Cabinet Secretary, Industry Trade and Cooperatives, Mr. Adan Mohamed, said there is need to synergize efforts in tackling food safety problems bedeviling the food industries in not only in Kenya but also Africa.
The Cabinet Secretary said effective implementation and enforcement of adopted policies and regulations and efficient functioning of institutions alongside adoption of international standards such as Codex, will be key factors for Africa to continue to enhance food safety.
“Without a doubt, food standards are mandatory for international trade. Currently in Africa, most industries are facing major challenges related to: Aflatoxin in foods, heavy metals and Carbon miles among others that will need to be addressed in order to make our food industries more competitive,” said Adan
Speaking during the same conference, Cabinet Secretary Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr. Willy Bett, said the African region has made steps towards enhancing market access through strengthening of food safety infrastructures.
worth noting that CCAFRICA is spearheading development of regional standards for Shea butter, dried meat, fermented cooked cassava based products and gnetum species leaves,” said Bett.
He added, this will enhance competitiveness of these products not only in the regional trade but also globally.
According to the CS, food safety policies, legislation and regulatory frameworks are key to the competitiveness of regionally traded commodities/products.
“Efforts such as the standard setting technical working groups under Codex should be supported and lauded by all with a goal of growing trade in the continent, said Bett.
Standardization is a key factor to building robust economies at national, regional and global levels. This among other reasons is why CCAfrica is expected to play a key role in intra Africa trade. Trade among African countries is very low and is estimated by World Bank at about 12-15% of total trade compared to Europe at 60% and Asia at 30%. This is unfortunate considering that Africa is the second largest continent in the world.
Africa must embrace the agenda of standardization and harmonization of standards on the most commonly traded products across the various African regions and economic trading blocks. CCAfrica has a key role to pray in facilitating relevant standards to promote intra African trade in agricultural and other food products.
Kenya is hosting the FAO/WHO Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAfrica) meeting which brings together representatives from 49 African countries.
The conference is very significant in the realm of food safety and fair trade practices in food. The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, whose mandate is to develop standards aimed at safeguarding the health of consumers and fair trade practices in food.
Speaking about the meeting, KEBS Managing Director, Charles Ongwae, said the conference is important not only to Kenya but also Africa and a step aimed at information sharing on food standards.
“Kenya being the coordinating country, our goal is to ensure we harmonise our standards as a continent while benchmarking or aligning with food standards developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission – which are recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO),” said Ongwae.
CAC has 189 members with Africa Region Codex Coordinating Committee (CCAFRICA) accounting for 49 member countries.
Kenya has been a member of CAC and CCAFRICA since 1969. In July 2015, Kenya was appointed as the CCAfrica coordinator for Africa whose mandate is to come up with regional Codex Food Standards for African countries with a goal to facilitate trade in the continent.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), is the Codex Contact Point and consequently links CAC Secretariat in Rome with Kenya in regard to any CAC activities, such as drafting Codex food standards and related text development.
KEBS has adopted over 200 Codex Food Standards and several codes of practice to protect the health of consumers and facilitate trade. Codex Food standards are also used when harmonising EAC-COMESA standards and whenever there is dispute in EAC trading within the region.
CAC is recognized as the biggest intergovernmental organisation body which takes into account concerns while ensuring fair practices in the food trade thus preventing fraud, deceptive practices, avoiding unjustified barriers to food trade.
The Commission’s mandate is to ensure that food standards developed are science-based, with a goal to protect the health of consumers and also in facilitating fair food trade. The Commission also works with three FAO/WHO independent Scientific Expert committees.