Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy has said the ongoing initiative to have a food safety regulatory mechanism and a standardized law is timely. He has, however, urged that the two bodies spearheading the process be merged to give them the needed weight for passage of the mechanism into law.
Currently, the Liberia Agro-Business Development Activities (LADA) and its sister organization, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an American Government “Feed the Future” project funding the Codex mechanism, are developing a National Quality and Standards Act and National Food Law for Liberia.
Codex is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and other recommendations relating to foods, food production, and food safety.
Minister Addy made the statement at an awareness creating event among stakeholders on the development and legislation of National Quality and Standards Act and National Food Law held at a local hotel at the weekend in Sinkor.
He said to evoke the support of the private sector; mechanisms such as envisaged, laws and standards that qualify local produce for export must be instituted as it contributes to revenue generation of farmers and the state while keeping citizens safe.
“Liberia is a small country with a budget of half a billion United States dollars where the creation of new institutions normally raise question of funding and to have this bill passed is to combine the two into one,” he pleaded.
In remarks, Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel G. Kogar pledged his support to ensure the passage of the bill when taken to the House of Representatives.
He commended Minister Addy for his instrumentality in ensuring that Liberia’s commerce environment is transformed.
Representative Kogar warned that instead of citizens leaving the country for lack of opportunities and better services, it will be good that they remain and join the transformational agenda of government.
The establishment of a standardized food safety regulatory body is crucial, as responsibilities on this issue have been duplicated to several ministries, including the Ministries of Commerce and Industry; Health; and Agriculture.
Since the bringing in of two American food experts in November last year, the need for a standard on food safety or law that provides for quality export, import food has become high on the agenda of some leaders.
While in the country, the experts uncovered the lack of an effective food testing laboratory, the lack of standards and how farmers were not getting the worth of their produce because of challenges with proper handling, storage and adequate transport that cause serious post-harvest losses.
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Officer of the African Union, John Oppong-Otoo, has described Liberia’s ongoing Food Safety plans as a step in the right direction as the measure will provide an opportunity for inclusion along the supply chains, quality control and customer satisfaction.
Several local consultants headed by the Director of the National Standards Laboratory, Stephen Y. Mambu, have been hired and have produced the draft of the National Quality and Standards Act and National Food Law for Liberia.