FAO concludes national food control system evaluation

Zimbabwe joins eight countries in the region which concluded food control system assessments. Earlier this month, Uganda successfully concluded a nine-month assessment in Kampala.

LAST week, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concluded an eight-month assessment of Zimbabwe’s food control system with a final workshop in Harare where a strategic action plan was presented to high level officials for their endorsement.

The assessment is part of Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control, a 6,4-million-euro project funded by the European Union (EU) since December 2021. With a recent extension, the project will expand its reach, offering technical support to competent authorities and key institutions across 12 AU member countries. It is designed to build up capabilities, strengthen governance, and improve strategic planning around two main components: food safety and plant health.

The initiative aligns with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa, a framework developed by AU laying the foundation for trade opportunities among member States. This project is being implemented in close partnership with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Zimbabwe joins eight countries in the region which concluded food control system assessments. Earlier this month, Uganda successfully concluded a nine-month assessment in Kampala.

Assessment of the national food control system in Zimbabwe

Project activities in Zimbabwe which began with an inception and training workshop in July 2023 consisted of a team of food safety experts from FAO, working closely with 32 focal points from local competent authorities and relevant stakeholders to gather data and information across several dimensions of the system.  Once the data was collected and analysed, the FAO team conducted field visits and interviews, and produced a draft report on the status of the country’s food control system with recommendations to improve it.

Pivotal to the project was the introduction of the FAO/WHO food control system assessment tool, a unique instrument developed by both United Nations agencies to assess the national food control system in a comprehensive manner, by looking at the entire food chain, including production, distribution, retail market and consumers.

Ultimately, the assessment aims to assist Zimbabwe in adhering to Codex Alimentarius international standards that allows greater harmonisation and trade in the region.

The final workshop was the culmination of the assessment, with stakeholders, experts and officials from Zimbabwe’s food control system convening to review and endorse findings and recommendations of the assessment, agree on priorities and develop a strategic action plan. Speaking at the strategic workshop in Kadoma, the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Climate and Rural Development ministry director of the research services department, Claid Mujaju, said that “the assessment would strengthen the food control system in Zimbabwe,” adding that the assessment is “well aligned to the government and ministry’s priorities and agenda 2030”.

The key moment of the workshop was on February 16, when high level officials from ministries across the country’s food control system endorsed the recommendations and a shared vision, committing to implement the strategic action plan stemming from the assessment, promote synergies and engage donors. In a speech read on his behalf, the secretary for Health and Child Care reiterated that “the government of Zimbabwe will work together with development partners to mobilise financial resources for the implementation of the plan”.

The conclusion of the food control assessment coincided with the conclusion of the Phytosanitary capacity evaluation, the second component of the EU-funded project, whose outcomes will pave way for a new national phytosanitary strategy addressing the country’s capacity development gaps identified in the phytosanitary system.

The outcomes of both assessments will help to shape the future of food safety in Zimbabwe. - FAO


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