Upgrading and accreditation of laboratories for testing agricultural products for export and managing pesticides have been identified as priority areas that could benefit the new COMESA led project on mainstreaming Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) capacity building into national policy frameworks.
This is according to industry experts that attended a three-day training last week in Kenya, on a framework of identifying and prioritizing health standards issues that impeded export of agriculture commodities.
The framework is known as ‘Prioritizing SPS Investments for Market Access (P-IMA)’ and was developed by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) a World Trade Organization (WTO) agency.
“In general, investments in PS capacity are still very low (both in the public and private sector), and most countries lack coherence in the establishment of SPS priorities and related investments.”
The P-IMA framework applies a multi-stakeholder, for mainstreaming SPS capacity building into national investment frameworks mainly in agriculture, trade and environment,” observed COMESA Director of Agriculture and Industry Thierry Kalonji.
Thirty experts in agriculture, livestock, health, standards agencies and related sectors from the public and the private sector in Kenya attended the training which was conducted by COMESA and the STDF.
Similar training has been conducted in Uganda and others lined up for Rwanda, Malawi and Ethiopia, the five participating countries.
The training is aimed at equipping the institutions dealing with production and export of agriculture and livestock products, with the skills to apply the P-IMA tool to identify SPS priorities that can be mainstreamed into National Planning and Investment Frameworks.
At the training, key sectors, with SPS issues that affect Kenya exports, were identified. These are horticulture and livestock sectors and the issues mainly relate to pesticide management and laboratory diagnostics.
In the livestock, sector SPS issues are mainly on meat and meat products. Unprocessed commodities such as vegetables, fruits (avocados, macadamia nuts, pineapples, peas & beans) were cited as more prone to SPS issues than processed products, sometimes leading to export rejection by importing countries.
The leading five destinations for Kenya exports are Pakistan, Uganda, USA, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom constituting 43% of total exports.
Countries participating in the programme are expected to constitute a working group of experts from all key sectors that will come up with the country’s dossier of SPS priority issues, from various values chains, that require inventions. These will be submitted to potential investors for implementation support.
Roshan Khan of the WTO/Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) who led the training, proposed that each country participating in the project to consider having a champion, either at an institutional level or a high-profile individual. This will ensure that SPS issues are firmly mainstreamed into national policies.