The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has reassured Nigeria of its continuous support to boost food security and nutrition.
The FAO Country Representatives to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dr Fred Kafeero, gave the assurance at the opening ceremony of a six-day training for the National Codex Committee (NCC) members on Monday, September 19, 2022, in Lagos.
Kafeero was represented at the event by Saadiya Haliru, the Project Focal Point in Nigeria.
The training was organised by the NCC in collaboration with FAO for NCC members on Risk Analysis and the Revised Procedural Manual (fourth edition).
The NCC committee comprises of 38 members which include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Federal Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Environment, as well as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
Others are All Farmers Association of Nigeria, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Services, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, and research institutes, among others.
He said that the FAO would continue to collaborate with the Federal Government on key areas to enhance food security.
The NCC is saddled with the responsibility of implementing the standards of the Codex Alimentarius Commission which was established in 1963 to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO and WHO Food Standards Programme.
Kafeero said that the six-day training programme was approved by the FAO Nigeria with support from FAO Regional Office in Accra to build capacities of NCC members for more active participation and contribution to Codex.
Kafeero said that the training would to build capacity of pariticpants on the need to engage more in the national codex to ensure food safety.
He added that the outcome of the programme would boost Nigeria’s agricultural production system and value chain, reduce the risks on health to consumers, food producers, processors, importers/exporters and the economy.
“We are happy to be part of this training programme for NCC members on risk analysis and revised NCC procedural manual, which is activity 4.2 on Nigeria’s CTF2 Project.
“The FAO representative in Nigeria and to ECOWAS is pleased with the level of implementation of Codex Trust Fund 2 (CTF2) activities in Nigeria.
“As you are aware, the launch and the public presentation of the revised NCC Procedural Manual was successfully held in Abuja on Sept. 8, 2022.
“As a follow up to the launch, the FAO recognised the need to train NCC members both old and new on the new rules, provisions and responsibility of each member for effective implementation of the fourth edition of the procedural manual for better performance.
“At the end of this programme, participants are expected to familiarise with the Codex framework for risk analysis; understand the difference between risk ranking, prioritisation and potential risk management options,” he said.
Malam Farouk Salim, the Director-General, SON, said that the overall objective of the training was to improve knowledge and understanding of targeted actors on food safety risk analysis.
Salim who was represented by Mrs Talatu Ethan, the Director, Lagos Operations, said that participants would be educated on the new provisions in the revised procedural manual and how to use it in the case of Nigeria food control system to improve food safety.
According to him, the National Codex Committee recently reviewed its Procedural Manual where the Technical Committees were expanded from four to 20 with new chairs from relevant stakeholders in line with the Codex Alimentarius Commission Committees.
“There is the need, therefore, to train NCC members on the new rules, provisions and responsibility of each member for effective implementation of the revised Procedural Manual for better performance.
“NCC members participate actively and contribute immensely in the elaboration of the National Food Standards (NIS), regulations on food products and the regional standards to ensure food safety and protect consumer health.
“The National Codex Committee recognised the existence of pool of scientific and technical expertise in Nigeria, but accessibility of this expertise is a major challenge,” Salim said.
He noted the committee also recognised general lack of feedback from experts with respect to request for scientific assessment, data and technical comments for codex work, especially on food safety risk analysis.
“The expectations from this important activity include knowledge and understanding of scientific basis of codex; food safety risk analysis and the provisions in the revised NCC procedural manual are enhanced.
“Others are knowledge and understanding of recent codex related activities are shared, Knowledge on understanding of generation of science-based data to support national participation and positions in the elaboration/review of codex standards and text safely disseminated.
“Scientific research and technical capacities of national experts on priority national positions on Codex activities are improved,” he said.
The Chairman, National Codex Committee, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, said that the ministry has become more resolute to work with NCC to strengthen the food safety structure and control system for disease prevention and health promotion.
Ehanire said that the training would enable members to get attuned with the recently launched NCC procedural manual for effective implementation and coordination of activities.
He added that the training would equip members for a more functional, effective and result-oriented codex work for safer food for consumers and fair food trade in the country.
“I feel strongly elated to be part of this epoch making event, registering another landmark achievement for the NCC through the Codex Thrust Fund 2 project.
“This is a capacity building workshop for our members and is very critical to the overall success of codex activities in Nigeria.
“At this juncture, I want to reiterate that the training of NCC members on risk analysis and revised procedural manual is a deliberate efforts and coming at the right time in ensuring safe food supplies in Nigeria.
“This is to support national economies, trade and tourism; ensuring consumers confidence in the food supply system while contributing to the food and nutrition security of the citizens to guarantee sustainable social and economic development in the country as well as international food trade.
“Let me also remind us that our being here today is an opportunity and l encourage us to participate actively so that the intended purpose of the workshop will be fully achieved,” he said.
By Olayinka Olawale