EAC concludes 1st series of capacity building on Standard Operating Procedures to operationalize Pest Risk Analysis in the region
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 2nd January, 2022: The 1st series of East African Community Capacity Building Sessions for Plant Health Inspectors on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to operationalize Pest Risk Analysis in the region concluded at Mutukula One Stop Border Post (OSBP) located on the Uganda/Tanzania border.
The five capacity building workshops conducted at the OSBPs of Namanga (Kenya/Tanzania), Malaba (Kenya/Uganda), Kabanga-Kobero (Tanzania/Burundi), Rusumo (Tanzania/Rwanda) and Mutukula (Tanzania/Uganda) were aimed at creating awareness amongst plant health inspectors on the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for inspecting maize, beans and rice for pests of phytosanitary importance in the EAC.
The workshops were also meant to facilitate the implementation of the SOPs at all the EAC border posts and identify any challenges that might be associated with the implementation of the SOPs.
Speaking during the closing session of the of the workshop at Mutukula, the EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana, on behalf of the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, thanked USAID Kenya/East Africa (USAID/KEA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA-FAS) for their generous financial and technical support towards supporting food safety in the region.
Mr. Havugimana reaffirmed EAC’s commitment to work closely with the Partner States and key Development Partners to mobilize additional resources to scale up the training to other OSBPs and address the identified gaps and actions towards the elimination of trade related Phytosanitary barriers for the three commodities (maize, rice and beans) in the EAC.
Mr. Havugimana assured Partner States that the Secretariat would mobilize additional resources to implement a follow-up initiative dubbed “One Inspector One Toolkit.” The new initiative will aim at increasing the number of inspectors at OSBPs and ensuring that every appointed inspector has his/her own complete world-class toolkit.
On his part, Mr. Paul Mwambu, the Commissioner, Department of Crop Inspection and Certification, Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, in the Republic of Uganda expressed appreciation for being part of the historic capacity building process. He noted that for the Republic of Uganda, the training was important because it enhanced the inspection of the most traded commodities in the East African region and would lead to reduction in Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) thus enhancing regional trade, food security and deepening regional integration.
Notes to Editors:
In conclusion, a number of observations and key gaps that have been inhibiting the work of Plant Inspectors were identified. These were:
- The need for harmonization of processes across the region,
- Deployment of an adequate number of Plant Inspectors at all OSBPs equipped with mini laboratories, Necessary tools and equipment, while also fostering a closer interaction with traders, which would yield stronger trust and adherence to the set SoPs.
- Awareness among small scale cross border traders on the EAC Simplified Trade Regime is still low, thus the need to deliberately increase efforts on this.
- Partner States need to invest more resources in the domestication and operationalization of the OSBP concept in line with provisions of the EAC OSBP Act 2016 and implementing regulations.
The workshops were convened by the EAC Secretariat with support from USAID/KEA and USDA-FAS and were also attended by technical staff from the EAC Secretariat, a representative from Africa Food Safety Initiative (AFSI), a project funded by USDA-FAS.
In November 2019, the EAC Council of Ministers approved harmonized procedures for conducting Pest Risk Analysis (PRAs) for maize, beans and rice. Subsequently, the EAC Secretariat prioritized the development of harmonized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for inspection of grain (maize, beans and rice) required operationalizing the PRAs.
In 2020, the EAC Secretariat, with technical and financial support from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Africa Food Safety initiative (AFSI) of University of Missouri, commenced the process of drafting the aforementioned SOPs. The draft SOPs were subjected to validation at the national level by EAC Partner States with financial support from USAID Kenya and East Africa (USAID/KEA). The SOPs were finally approved by the 14th Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security (SCAFs) in June 2021.
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About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified