Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

This week FAO will conclude an eight-month assessment of Zimbabwe’s food control system with a final workshop in the city of Kadoma, where high-level executives are expected to endorse the recommendations of the final report and commit to implementing its strategic plan. The assessment is part of “Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control,” a 6.4 million-euro project funded by the European Union which began in November of 2022 to provide technical support and work with Competent Authorities and other leading institutions in 12 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Member Countries. The project is designed to build up capabilities, strengthen governance and improve strategic planning around two main components: food safety and plant health. The food safety component of the project was first implemented in Comoros where the assessment ended last August with high-level executives endorsing its results and recommendations. In Zimbabwe, project activities began in July 2023. Throughout the project activities, a team of food safety experts from FAO worked closely with local Competent Authorities for food safety and relevant stakeholders, supporting them in gathering data across local authorities and in the development of a strategic plan meant to improve the country’s public health and economic development.

Assessment of the national food control system in Zimbabwe The project, co-signed by the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, falls within the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa developed by the African Union (AU) to spur trade among AU Member States. It was implemented in close collaboration with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture (AUC DARBE).

Zimbabwe and FAO have a longstanding partnership, working together since FAO established its Representation in Harare in 1984 to enhance policy and institutional frameworks, further agricultural productivity and competitiveness, and develop resilience around climate change. With this assessment, FAO introduced to Zimbabwe the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool, a unique instrument whose use is expanding steadily, which is designed to assess the national food control system in a comprehensive manner, by looking at the entire food chain, including production, distribution, the retail market and the consumers. Ultimately, the assessment aims to assist Zimbabwe in adhering to international standards that will allow greater harmonization and trade in the region.

The team of FAO experts assisted a total of 32 focal points from Zimbabwe’s Competent Authorities in food safety through various assessment steps, including data gathering across multiple institutions and a review and validation process. Back in July 2023, the FAO team of experts travelled to Zimbabwe to conduct an introductory training about the assessment process and tool content addressed to the focal points who were tasked with collecting data and providing specific information over a 4-month period. Once the data was reviewed, the FAO team conducted a mission in November 2023 which involved field visits and interviews with competent authorities to complete the data collection, carry on with the strategic analysis of the data and produce a final report on the status of the country’s food safety control system and recommendations to improve it.

Conclusion of the project and the final workshop

The final workshop will be the culmination of the eight-month assessment. Focal points and stakeholders involved in the country’s food control system from across the country will meet in Kadoma from the 12 to 14 February 2024 to review findings and recommendations of the assessment, agree on priorities and develop a strategic framework to facilitate its implementation. The key moment of the workshop will be on February 16, 2024 in Harare, when high-level officials from Ministries across the country’s food safety control system are expected to approve and endorse the recommendations and the shared vision for the food control system, commit to implementing the strategic plan, promoting synergies and engaging donors.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

By

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *