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Comesa project to boost market access for agricultural products

Agricultural producers in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) stand to increase share in the global market, thanks to a project being fast-tracked by the regional bloc to enhance food health standards.

Agricultural stakeholders have been calling for the upgrading and accreditation of laboratories for testing agricultural products for export and managing pesticides to enable exporters access global niche market segments.

The Comesa secretariat is implementing a project on mainstreaming Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) capacity building into national policy frameworks in five countries.

Director of Agriculture and Industry, Thierry Kalonji said most of the regional agricultural products fail to access global market even in terms of premium prices as producers fail to observe outlined standards. Kalonji spoke during a three-day training held in Kenya last week.

Health standards

During the meeting, experts drawn from agriculture, livestock, and health sectors discussed a framework of identifying and prioritising health standards issues that impede export of agriculture commodities. The framework dubbed Prioritising SPS Investments for Market Access (P-IMA) was designed by the World Trade Organisation Standards and Trade Development Facility.

Kalonji said that similar training has been conducted in Uganda and others are lined up for Rwanda, Malawi and Ethiopia, the five participating countries. ”The training is aimed at equipping the institutions dealing with production and export of agriculture and livestock products, with the skills to apply the P-IMA tool to identify SPS priorities that can be mainstreamed into National Planning and Investment Frameworks,” he said.

He added: “In general, investments in SPS capacity are still very low both in the public and private sector, and most countries lack coherence in the establishment of SPS priorities and related investments.”

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