SAFE project launches national food safety strategy

Posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2023

From left. Frank Porte, the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe Head of Cooperation,  Dr Berhanu Bedane, the FAO Zimbabwe Sub Regional Coordinator representative and Victor Nyamande, the Director of Environmental Health Services launching the National Food Strategy.

The Transforming Zimbabwe’s Animal Health and Food Safety for the Future (SAFE) project launched a National Food Safety Strategy (NFSS) 2022-2026 on October 5, 2023, with the vision of "Safe food from farm to fork in Zimbabwe". The strategy aims to improve the management of the country's food control system and ensure consumer protection from foodborne diseases as well as enhancing trade.

The strategy was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) led SAFE project in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC). The SAFE project is one of the six projects under the European Union funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) and focuses on strengthening the animal health and food safety systems through capacitation of the competent authorities.

The strategy seeks to strengthen the food safety legal and policy framework and institutional capacity for food safety. Focus is also on enhancing food safety information management systems and stakeholder engagement and collaboration in food safety. It also identifies key actions, indicators, targets, and responsibilities for each objective. It emphasizes the role of each stakeholder in ensuring food safety, from producers to consumers, and calls for improved nationwide cooperation along the entire food chain.

“The Government of Zimbabwe has a constitutional responsibility to safeguard public health through measures such as developing and implementing an official, effective and efficient food safety strategy”, said Victor Nyamandi in a speech read on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Child care Permanent Secretary, Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza. 

The National Food Safety Strategy, developed through wide and extensive consultations among key food control management stakeholders is expected to have positive impacts on public health, trade, and economic development in Zimbabwe. By reducing the burden of foodborne illnesses, the strategy will contribute to improved nutrition and well-being of the population. Compliance with national and international standards will facilitate market access and competitiveness of Zimbabwean products. 

The launch of the strategy is a milestone in Zimbabwe's efforts to improve food safety and quality. It is also a testament to the strong partnership between the Government of Zimbabwe, FAO, EU, and other stakeholders in advancing this agenda. Its successful implementation will require sustained commitment, coordination, and collaboration from all actors involved. 

As FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe Patrice Talla said: 
"The Food Safety Strategy offers a broad vision and strategic priorities for collective national action in food safety. It is designed to enhance work of all stakeholders underpinned on the notion that food safety is everyone's responsibility.

Speaking on the support extended to Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector by the European Union, the Ambassador of the European Union to Zimbabwe, Jobst von Kirchmann, in a speech read on his behalf by Frank Porte, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe, acknowledge the collaboration of key stakeholders involved in the formulation of the strategy. 

“I would like to express my gratitude to all those involved in this project, especially our implementing partners. FAO as the main coordinator, the Department of Veterinary Services, and the Department of Environmental Health have been instrumental in making this project a success. Together, they have formed a robust partnership that have played a crucial role in strengthening animal health and food safety policy and its regulatory frameworks," he said. 

The launch of the strategy demonstrates the country's commitment to ensuring that all Zimbabweans have access to safe and nutritious food. The implementation of the strategy will require the cooperation of all stakeholders in the food value chain. However, if successful, it will have a major impact on the health and well-being of all Zimbabweans.