Nairobi, Wednesday, June 26, 2019: Upgrading and accreditation of laboratories for testing agricultural products for export has been identified as one of the priority areas that could benefit through the new COMESA led project on mainstreaming Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) capacity building into national policy frameworks.
This is according to industry experts attending a three-day training on using the Prioritizing SPS Investments for Market Access (P-IMA)’ framework. The framework was developed by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) a World Trade Organization (WTO) agency.
The P-IMA training is being conducted by COMESA and the STDF and runs from Tuesday to Thursday this week. Thirty experts in agriculture, livestock, standards, health and related sectors from the public and the private sector and in Kenya are attending.
Speaking at the opening of the inception meeting for the project on Monday this week, COMESA Director of Agriculture and Industry Mr Thierry Kalonji observed:
“In general, investments in PS 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.”
The training is therefore 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.
The P-IMA framework applies a multi-stakeholder, for mainstreaming SPS capacity building into national investment frameworks mainly in agriculture, trade and environment.
At the training, key sectors, with SPS issues that affect Kenya exports, were identified. These are horticulture and livestock and the issues mainly relate to pesticide management and laboratory diagnostics.
In the livestock, sector SPS issues are mainly on meat and meat products. Unprocessed commodities such as vegetables, fruits (avocados, macadamia nuts, pineapples, peas & beans) were cited as more prone to SPS issues than processed products, sometimes leading to export rejection by importing countries.
The leading five destinations for Kenya exports are Pakistan, Uganda, USA, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom constituting 43% of total exports.
Some of the key interventions proposed at the training include upgrading and accreditation of laboratories and training of producers on pest identification and management.
These proposals and others that will come up from various value chains, will eventually be considered by a National Working Group of all stakeholders, that will be set up to come up with a dossier of interventions that can eventually be submitted to potential investors.
Ms Roshan Khan of the WTO/Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) who is leading the training, proposed that each country participating in the project to consider having a champion, either at institutional level or a high-profile individual. This will ensure that SPS issues are firmly mainstreamed into national policies.