Promoting development of, and compliance with, standards and regulations.
To strengthen Africa's ability to set and comply with essential production and trade standards relevant for animals and animal products (SPS, food safety and quality standards, and certification systems) that facilitate competitiveness of African animal producers to enter high value markets – within and beyond the continent.
1. The context
Safety of products of animal origin, trade and export of animal commodities and control of animal diseases are increasingly governed by international and domestic sanitary standards and regulations. African countries are increasingly under pressure to improve their veterinary services for the control and prevention of animal diseases, including zoonoses, as a prerequisite for entering the competitive arena of international trade in animals and animal products, but also to safeguard global public health. The need for compliance with domestic and international sanitary standards places increasing demands on the financial, human and technological resources of countries seeking to work towards or to maintain compliance with standards and to trade in animal commodities.
While the aspiration to enter the high-value export markets is a worthwhile target, it is clear that, in the short to medium term, the greatest gains for Africa, especially by producers of animal resources, will be the exploitation of regional and domestic markets within the continent. The greatest opportunity for this lies in the fast growing demand for animal products by urban consumers,whose expectation and level of awareness about requirements for food safety standards are consistently comparable to international levels. Consequently, despite the need to have an initial emphasis on markets within Africa, standard setting has to be guided by international parameters. However, national standards and regulations can also represent major barriers to potentially lucrative markets for many African animal keepers who are often unable to comply. Furthermore, private standards, such as those imposed by food processors and supermarkets, can also restrict access by animal producers to domestic markets and opportunities in agribusiness. Improved traceability and alert systems are key elements to ensuring consumer confidence in quality and safety characteristics of locally produced and processed food items.
Improved participation of African institutions in international standards-setting processes is important for Africa: currently, standard setting bodies are dominated by the developed world. Increasing participation of stakeholders along the value chain would not only enhance their capacity to influence standards but also increase their understanding of the benefits of compliance at national, regional and continental levels, thus fostering better adoption. Harmonization of sanitary standards across RECs will facilitate increased inter-regional trade on the continent and enhance the capacity for engagement within the international standard-setting process.
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