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SADC to improve food security, promote regional trade

US Ambassador Earl Miller


On Tuesday this week senior staff of the Southern Development Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, government officials, and representatives from regional and international organisations including the United States Embassy, USAID and the USAID/Southern Africa Trade Hub gathered at the SADC secretariat for a ceremony to celebrate the hand- over of the recently completed Regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Strategies for Food Safety, Plant and Animal Health.


The event marked the celebrated 12 months of cooperation between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the SADC secretariat’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary programme. The results of this collaboration is to ensure that consumers are being supplied with food products which are safe to eat, plants and animals protected from plants pests and animal diseases and at the same time improving safe regional and international trade.


The Regional SPS Strategies will strengthen the SADC’s fifteen Member States to effectively manage sanitary and phytosanitary risks through implementing SPS measures that are consistent with international standards and best practices. The SPS strategies apply to all measures that may, directly, affect trade between the Member States.


In his delivery speech US Ambassador Earl Miller said there was a need to build an economically competitive SADC region integrated effectively with the global trading system under the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).


The US government believes improving SPS strategies will lead to increased trade flows in Southern Africa; promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and increasing the standard of living for hard working people across the region from the smallholder farmers who grow for the local market to the agribusiness producing food for export; from the truck drivers who ferry goods across borders to the traders and retailers who deliver products to consumers.


The project has been a collaborative effort by the 15 member states. It draws heavily on the commitment and expertise of SADC member states to meet the requirements of the WTO SPS Agreement and the SADC SPS Annex.


The actual drafting of the strategy was a multi- step, participatory process. They worked closely with TIFI and FABR, the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub engaged regional experts in food safety, plant health and animal health, culminating in a first SPS strategy draft. This draft was then reviewed and vetted during a critical stakeholder’s workshop, held in Johannesburg in February 2015 and attended by more than 100 SADC delegates from the 15 member states.


Based on the feedback received from the delegates, the current SPS strategies were finalised and translated. It is critical to note that the SPS strategy is not a ‘one size fit all’ document but outcome focused and contextualized for the needs of each member state.


The SADC secretariat will oversee the implementation of the Regional SPS strategies within the framework of its regional SPS capacity building programms and will endevour to mobilise resources for this purpose in collaboration with SADC Member States.

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