At the signing of a 24-month Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) with the budgetary value of US$348,000.00, the Country Representative of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Mariatou Njie, says food safety has a critical role in ensuring that food stays safe at every stage of its chain; from production to harvest, processing, storage, and distribution and all the way to preparation and consumption.
Madam Njie also said the two-year Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) signed with the Liberian government on September 10, 2018 was formulated as a result of a discussion Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Gbehzohngar Findley, held with FAO Director General in October 2018, about food security and food safety in Liberia.
She made the remarks at the signing of the two-year Technical Cooperation Program which is intended to strengthen National Food Control System by ensuring safety of food and trade improvement in Liberia has been officially signed between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The signing took place at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) Tuesday, September 10, 2019, and was preceded by the formulation of close consultations and support from other line Ministries and Agencies of the Liberian Government, including Health, Agriculture and the Liberia Chambers of Commerce.
She therefore praised Foreign Minister Gbehzongai Findley for the effort. “I therefore would like to congratulate Honorable Findley for the approval of this very important project.” Madam Njie said.
She noted further that food safety has a critical role in ensuring that food stays safe at every stage of its chain; from production to harvest, processing, storage, and distribution and all the way to preparation and consumption.
Madam Njie also observed that the TCP’s close alignment with Pillar 2 of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and with FAO’s Strategic Objective 4, will enable more inclusive and efficient agricultural food systems.
The FAO Country Representative also disclosed that the Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) is in line with her Organization’s Country Program Framework (CPF) Output 1.2 Systems, established for effective monitoring and surveillance food security through FAO support.
For his part, Commerce and Industry Minister, Wilson K. Tarpeh said the CDC-led Government has invested the little that it has into the National Standards Laboratory to ensure effective quality standards.
Prof. Tarpeh noted that as a result of efforts being made to improve the National Standards Laboratory, the Liberian Government, through the Commerce Ministry was able to discover rotten food items, 200 tons of contaminated meat with the most recent being the discovery of 2,754 barrels of contaminated pig feet.
“The Commerce Ministry was able to pick it up with this kind of intervention and now we’re going to strengthen our capacity and this is why we are happy that this particular intervention is being made.” Minister Tarpeh observed.
Speaking further Professor Tarpeh lauded the FAO for the US $348,000.00 grant and expressed Government’s appreciation for the gesture. The Commerce Minister also noted that Liberia appreciates and looks forward to anything that will come for development of the Country.
“We are glad for this intervention, Madam Njei, and want to thank the FAO and through the entire United Nations system for this important support. This project is what we call soil to stomach and you the professionals in this area would call it food safety,” Minister Tarpeh said.
Food safety, Minister Tarpeh said, covers everything from soil to stomach including the entire food chain and so what this intervention has done will enhance or deepen our commitment in this Ministry to ensure that all food items that come into the Liberian economy and commerce are of minimum standard.”
The objective of the Project includes addressing the key challenges in Liberia’s food control system and several other areas through strengthened capacity.
They include inspection methods and approaches; application of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) System; meat inspection, food sampling, monitoring, and surveillance.
Other components of the project include food processing technologies; food control management; compliance and enforcement; risk analysis; Codex and International Agreements.
In accordance with the TCP, the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Agriculture, Health are the key agencies of the Liberian Government, responsible for the implementation of the Technical Cooperation Project.
However, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry will serve as the focal entity and charged with the responsibility of appointing a National Project Coordinator (NPC), who will ensure smooth implementation and coordination of the project activities in close collaboration and cooperation with FAO Liberia.