• Monday, July 15, 2024
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FG partners NESG, US to drive safe food systems in Nigeria

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In a bid to ensure locally produced food products are safe for consumption and for exports, the federal government has partnered the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on programs to strengthen the enabling environment for food safety in Nigeria.

Speaking during the ‘Food and Feed Safety Expertise Co-ordination Workshop’ in Abuja on Tuesday, Tayo Aduloju, the chief executive officer (designate) of NESG noted that Nigeria’s commitment to upholding the highest food safety standards is paramount to the well-being and progress of the citizens.

Read also: NESG push for gender, inclusion through improved trade, healthcare delivery

According to him, Nigeria has over 70 million hectares of agricultural land, which is a massive potential for economic growth and development.

” However, for the sector to thrive, we must have effective regulatory, institutional and policy frameworks. Frameworks that address the gaps in food and feed safety systems will not only improve the well-being of citizens but also impact Nigeria’s position in international trade.

“To benefit effectively from the AfCFTA, reforming food and feed safety systems in Nigeria is inevitable. By collaborating and pooling our collective expertise, we can strengthen regulatory frameworks and enhance the overall quality of food and feed in our country.

“As we navigate an ever-evolving global landscape, the importance of efficient food and feed safety systems cannot be overemphasized. Our shared goal is to safeguard public health, guarantee the integrity of our agricultural produce, and ensure consumer confidence in the products that reach their tables,” he said.

Speaking further, the CEO noted that the private sector plays a crucial role in the agricultural value chain, enhancing productivity, opening markets, and attracting investment, adding that heir active involvement in Food and Feed safety dialogues of this nature will also improve food quality for consumption and trade.

In his remarks, Mohammad Ali Pate, coordinating minister of health and social welfare said that food security is not only about the availability and affordability of food, but it is also about ensuring that the foods consumed are safe, healthy and nutritious.

Read also: Nigeria loses $1.5 billion as malnutrition cuts workers productivity

He disclosed that efforts were ongoing to validate the revised National policy on food safety & quality as well as its implementation plan, 2023.

He also hinted on plans to launch the first National Integrated guidelines for food-borne disease surveillance and response.

“All these steps are deliberate efforts put in place by the Ministry to ensure we attain the required national health security status in Nigeria. The revised policy will look at new and emerging areas that will improve the regulatory, enforcement and data-gathering system to ensure it is more effective, efficient, and robust, while the guidelines will set the roadmap for the integrated surveillance of food-borne diseases and establish the protocols for the response to food safety emergencies in the country.

“This event has therefore come at an appropriate time to ensure the right capacity needed to transform the food safety system and structure are developed.

“In line with the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on strengthening food safety, and the president’s agenda to improve food security, the federal ministry of health and social welfare prioritises food safety as a serious element of public health that requires concerted efforts.

Read also:World Bank, others advocate increased investments to curb malnutrition in Nigeria

In his remarks, Christopher Bielecki, Agricultural Counselor, USDA noted the high rate of rejection of agricultural produce from Nigeria adding that most of the rejection was due to lack of adherence to food safety regulations.

“So rejection issue is not just a concern for Nigeria, but also for the United states and one of our duties is to ensure that those in agricultural food production and exporters abide by the safety rules and regulations and laws. Sometimes US exporters have challenging time doing this.

“So I hope this workshop helps to address these rejection, facilitate international trade, and this could be not just to help Nigeria increase food production and achieve food security but also attract forex for the country through food exports,” he said.