Brussels, 3 April 2009
In an effort to help developing countries improve their food safety systems for the benefit of their populations and economies, EU Health Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, launched today at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a new initiative – "Better Training for Safer Food in Africa – BTSF-Africa." The initiative was launched during a high-level conference taking place in the Ethiopian capital city. Through BTSF-Africa, over the next two years, €10million will be used to fund capacity building activities. Launched in 2005, the programme BTSF has provided training to both European and third country officials who are responsible for checking that EU rules related to food and feed, animal health and welfare and plant health are properly applied.
From Addis Ababa, EU Health Commissioner, Androulla Vassiliou, said: "Due to the growing demands we have agreed to set up, jointly with the African Union Commission (AUC), a specific programme targeted at Africa, with the view to promoting compliance with international Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures as key to bilateral trade, both within Africa and with the rest of the world, and to increasing the protection of citizens."
Seven implementing activities
Under "BTSF-Africa," the EC and the AUC will jointly coordinate the implementation, from 2009 to 2010, of seven capacity building activities worth around €10 million. The activities target the public and private sectors playing a role in the SPS systems at national, regional and continental levels.
The key objective is to support food safety mainly by the transfer of technical expertise and policy advice in areas of food safety and quality across Africa. The knowledge, expertise and skills transferred will help to produce and distribute agro-food products compatible with international SPS standards, contributing towards the reduction of the likelihood of food-borne diseases and the related health and socio-economic burden.
Strengthening food safety
At micro level, the activities will help improve the use of agricultural inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, veterinary drugs, etc) and good hygiene practices in the production and distribution chains, as well as animal/product management systems of control and certification, strengthening the competent authorities and producers' associations (small & medium enterprises - SMEs). At macro level, the activities will support the gradual integration and competitiveness of the agro-food sector, strengthening the vital role of agriculture as a whole towards rural development and food security, increasing market access for African producers with positive knock-on effects on growth and employment in Africa.
The activities are part of the EU Annual Action Programme 2007 for Food Security implementing "Thematic Strategy Paper and Multi-annual Indicative Programme 2007-2010" for the Development Cooperation Instrument.
They are being implemented under the "Better Training for Safer Food (BTSF)," which is an initiative of the European Commission (Health and Consumers Directorate-General) aimed at organising a Community training strategy in the areas of food law, feed law, animal health and animal welfare rules, as well as plant health rules. It is essential that third countries and, in particular, trading partners from developing countries are familiar with EU standards and import requirements. To this end, training organised for Member States in the EU is also open to participants from third countries. Specific training activities are also organised for third country participants on the spot world-wide.
Four activities, worth €5.4 million, are being implemented by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and two, worth €3.868.120, are being implemented by the "Agriconsulting Europe S.A." The seventh activity, worth €217,915, is being implemented by the "Application Européenne de Technologies et de Services - AETS Consortium."
Concerning Africa in particular, the December 2007 Lisbon Summit adopted a Joint Africa-EU Strategy identifying eight partnerships in which specific strategies will have to be put in place. The third relates to Trade, Regional Integration and Infrastructure, and includes an SPS component. The Strategy will be implemented through successive short-term joint action plans and enhanced political dialogue at all levels.
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