ECOWAS to review standards to promote animal health, trade

Regulated standards are vital to the increase in regional and international trade in animal products.

The ECOWAS Commission on Thursday said production standards are to be reviewed to help develop a common approach that would enhance animal production and trade in the region.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Lapodini Atouga, said during the meeting of ECOWAS delegates to the World Organisation for Animal Health in Abuja that the review was to ensure that delegates from member states have a common approach to wholesome animal production and trade to promote a healthy and food sustained region.

The Commissioner, who was represented at the meeting by the Director of Environment in the Commission, Johnson Boanuh, said maintaining a common approach would prepare ECOWAS OIE delegates ahead of the continental and international veterinary meeting scheduled for Abidjan and Paris in April and May respectively.

“The general objective of this meeting is to review the reports of the OIE in order to analyse the rationale and impact of the proposed draft changes to the reports on the region’s effort towards trade in livestock,” he said.

“This meeting will help in the development of common positions for the ECOWAS region and improve participation in international standard setting process as standards will enhance the health and well-being of ECOWAS citizens,’’ he added.

The Director, African Union Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Ahmed El-Sawalhy, stressed the need to enhance for compliance to set standards, identifying it as a challenge that must be tackled by member states in their domains.

Mr. El-Sawalhy, who was represented by the Project Coordinator, AU-IBAR, Raphael Coly, said that training of stakeholders in member states on global best practices would ensure compliance to set regulations and complement AU’s efforts at encouraging trade among African regions.

The Principal Programme Officer, Livestock Development, Vivian Iwar, told reporters that the region had adopted regulations on the harmonised standard of processing animal products, adding that these standards were vital to the increase in regional and international trade in animal products.

He said stakeholders in the ECOWAS region were being sensitised on global best practices in animal production, adding that the two-day meeting of the ECOWAS Chief Veterinary Officers is aimed at strengthening common regional positions on the proposed OIE standards.

“What we have done is to conduct sensitisation workshops to train trainers who in turn train the local producers in member countries because the local producers are the most important factor in this system,” he said.

“If he does not know what antibiotics to administer to animals or who to report to when a disease occurs, we have a problem and all these things affect trade. So, we have sensitised stakeholders on the development of the policies and advocated with policy makers to develop the standards.

“We do not just want to achieve a food sustained region, we want to ensure that the food products are wholesome,’’ Mr. Iwar said.

The Director, Federal Department of Livestock and Pest Control Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Joseph Nyager, also highlighted the importance of value addition to animal products, pointing out that Nigeria was currently implementing its Agriculture Transformation Agenda which focuses on value addition to products to ensure food sustainability in the country and the region.

“We are focusing on value addition along with the quality of commodities and this involves different players. The aim is to treat agriculture as a business. Once people are in a business and they know they can make money from it, there will be the element of sustainability so that agriculture will not just be seen as a development programme.

“This is part of what we are doing across the value chain so that it is a holistic approach and that brings in the issue of policy formulation and review and the inclusion of the standards which are vital to local, regional and international trade,’’ Mr. Nyager said.

(NAN)


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