A two-year Technical Cooperation Program intended to strengthen National Food Control System by ensuring food safety and trade improvement in Liberia has been officially signed between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The signing took place at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) in Monrovia Tuesday, September 10, 2019, and was preceded by the formulation of close consultations and support from other line Ministries and Agencies of the Liberian government, including Health, Agriculture and the Liberia Chambers of Commerce.A Commerce Ministry release says the 24-month Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) has a budget of US$348,000.00.
FAO Representative to Liberia, MariatouNjie, says the Project was formulated as a result of a discussion held between Liberia's Foreign Minister, Gbehzohngar Findley and FAO Director General in October 2018, about food security and food safety in Liberia.
"I therefore would like to congratulate Honorable Findley for the approval of this very important project." Madam Njie expresses.
She says food safety has a critical role in ensuring food stays safe at every stage of its chain; from production to harvest, processing, storage, and distribution, and all the way to preparation and consumption.
She observes that the TCP's close alignment with Pillar 2 of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and with FAO's Strategic Objective 4, will enable more inclusive and efficient agricultural food systems.
The FAO Country Representative also discloses that the Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) is in line with her Organization's Country Program Framework (CPF) Output 1.2 Systems, established for effective monitoring and surveillance food security through FAO support.
Commerce and Industry Minister, Wilson K. Tarpeh says the CDC-led Government has invested the little it has in the National Standards Laboratory to ensure effective quality standards.
Prof. Tarpeh notes that as a result of efforts being made to improve the National Standards Laboratory, the Government, through the Commerce Ministry was able to discover rotten food items, 200 tons of contaminated meat with the most recent being the discovery of 2,754 barrels of contaminated pig feet.
"The Commerce Ministry was able to pick it up with this kind of intervention and now we're going to strengthen our capacity and this is why we are happy that this particular intervention is being made." Minister Tarpeh asserts.
Speaking further, he lauds the FAO for the US$348,000.00 grant and expresses Government's appreciation for the gesture.
"We are glad for this intervention, Madam Njei, and want to thank the FAO and through the entire United Nations system for this important support. This project is what we call soil to stomach and you the professionals in this area would call it food safety, it covers everything from soil to stomach; that is the entire food chain and so what this intervention has done will enhance or deepen our commitment in this Ministry to ensure that all food items that come into the Liberian economy and commerce are of minimum standard", he emphasizes.
The objective of the Project includes addressing key challenges in Liberia's food control system and several other areas through strengthened capacity, including inspection methods and approaches; application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) System; meat inspection, food sampling, monitoring, and surveillance.