Southern African Development Community (SADC) has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary Strategy (SPS) aimed at promoting regional trade and improving food safety.
The programme, which has been on pilot phase for 18 months, has been developed to ensure that SADC member states supply consumers with food that is safe from diseases and also facilitate safe regional trade integration.
The regional SPS strategies are developed to strengthen capacity of SADC member states to effectively manage sanitary and phytosanitary risks through implementing measures that are consistent with international standards and best practices.
The SPS strategies will apply to all measures that may directly or indirectly affect trade between member states.
Speaking at the formal handover of the programme draft to the SADC Secretariat, the United States of America (USA) ambassador to Botswana, Earl Miller said he believes improving SPS strategies will lead to increased trade flows in Southern Africa.
“This will promote economic growth while creating jobs and increasing the standard of living for people across our region, from the smallholder farmers who grow crops for the local market to the agribusiness producing food for export, as well as the truck drivers who ferry the goods to traders across borders and finally, the retailers who deliver the products to consumers,” he said.
The ambassador also said unlocking the economic potential of the people involved in the chain, people should start by improving SPS standards and quality control.
Miller noted that in the past, inconsistent controls and measures sometimes created barriers and hindered the flow of goods across the region.
“The project draws heavily on the commitment and expertise of SADC member states to meet the requirements of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) SPS agreement and the SADC SPS annex,” he said.
The Director of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources at the SADC Secretariat, Margaret Nyirenda said adopting the SPS and building the capacity of member states and ensuring that they apply them would advance private businesses and trade, as well as large agribusiness and smallholder farmers in the region.
“Implementing robust and effective SPS measures and quality controls will allow SADC members to promote intra-regional trade in plants, plant products, animals and animals products, as well as ensure food safety and manage identified and emerging SPS related threats,” she said.
SADC Secretariat will oversee the implementation of the regional SPS within the framework of its regional SPS capacity building programmes, and will endeavour to mobilise resources for this purpose in collaboration with SADC member states.
The draft strategy development and field test were conducted by USAID, who worked closely with the SADC Secretariat, specifically with the Trade and Industry, Finance and Investment and Food Agriculture and Natural Resources directorates.