Rwanda Concludes Assessments of the Country's National Food Control and Phytosanitary Systems

16 November 2023

Kigali — This week, the government of Rwanda under the leadership and coordination of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will conclude two critical assessments of the country's food control and phytosanitary systems, with the support of FAO's Food Systems and Food Safety Division and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). The workshops, scheduled to take place in Kigali, will see high-level policymakers endorse the recommendations from the final reports and commit to implementing strategic plans. The 5-million-dollar "Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control" project is funded by the European Union (EU) to improve food safety and phytosanitary systems in 11 African Union (AU) member countries.

The workshop will take place on November 17 at the Marriott Hotel in Kigali with high level policymakers expected to attend the food safety component's final workshop from 8:30 to 10.35 and the phytosanitary component's final workshop at the same venue from 10.45 to 1:00pm.

Institutions that were involved in performing both assessments include all the institutions that have any implication on food safety like Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Rwanda Agriculture Board, Rwanda Forestry Authority, University of Rwanda, UR-CAVM - University of Rwanda, Rwanda Standards Board, Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority, PSF Private sector federation and Rwanda Consumer's Rights Protection Organization to name few of them.

The two components of the project are supported by two state-of-the-art tools: the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool and the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) tool. These tools have been designed to enable countries to evaluate their food control systems and phytosanitary capacities facilitating the development of strategic plans to strengthen them. Ultimately, the assessments are intended to assist Rwanda in adhering to international harmonized standards and guidelines, improve dialogue, and enhance safe trade and food security in the region.

Over the next several months, a total of 17 assessments between the two components will conclude in the 11 participating AU member countries. Along the way, the project is enhancing technical capacity and expanding the skills and knowledge of the national workforce involved in food control and phytosanitary systems. This effort aims to foster a common vision among competent authorities and stakeholders regarding the status of national food control and plant health systems, facilitating continuous improvement.

As part of the EU's broader initiatives to strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacities and governance in support of the newly established Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the costed plans resulting from the project will contribute to improving public health and increasing trade opportunities in the region.

FAO's work includes ensuring that agriculture, public health, natural resources and all other relevant sectors collaborate to advance food safety. FAO supports the project's implementation through partnerships with regulatory agencies, academic institutions, and private sector groups at the national, sub-regional, regional, and headquarter levels.

Through the Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE) process, the national plant protection organization (NPPO) and private sector stakeholders, with the support of IPPC-certified phytosanitary capacity evaluation facilitators, evaluate the country's current phytosanitary systems and the food safety control system as well and develop a national strategy to improve these systems over the next 5-10 years. Over the course of three PCE and food control assessment consensus workshops and much collaborative work happening in-between, the process empowers NPPOs to develop and implement a strategic plan, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, that will address gaps identified and guide the country's capacity development needs. The outcomes of the PCE and the food control system assessment can be used to help mobilize resources to implement elements of the strategic plan.

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