Celebrating World Food Day with Standards as tools for increased productivity and agricultural trade

The World Food Day is observed annually on 16 October to highlight the millions of people worldwide who cannot afford a healthy diet and the need for regular access to nutritious food. The theme for 2022 is Leave NO ONE behind.

World Food Day 2022 is being marked with a clear focus of the fact that Agriculture and food are the leading sectors for synergies across development and climate action, delivering simultaneously on the Sustainable Development Goals, national growth and food security goals, and climate adaptation and mitigation.

For Africa, Agriculture, providing 60 percent of all employment, constitutes the backbone of most African economies; in most countries, it is still the largest contributor (30-40%) to GDP; the biggest source of foreign exchange and the main generator of savings and tax revenues. The sector still the dominant provider of industrial raw materials with about two-thirds of manufacturing value-added in most African countries being based on agricultural raw materials. Given its backward and forward linkages for industries, agriculture thus remains crucial for economic growth in most African countries, however, Technical Barriers to Trade due to variant standards and Conformity Assessment procedures due to different Africans regional Agricultural Policies limit Agricultural trade and Productivity.

ARSO is promoting harmonization of African standards and Conformity assessment systems focused on facilitating the production and trade of Agricultural and food products, in the context of the AfCFTA Agreement, through eight main sectors namely fish and fisheries products, milk and milk products, horticulture, Coffee, cocoa and tea, live animals, animal feeding and agriculture and biotechnology with the support of experts from African Countries member of ARSO. ARSO is also facilitating. ARSO also continues to engage stakeholders in the development of training modules, Certification guidelines, Value Addition Modules, Conformity Assessment Checklists and Audit Instructions, outreach Materials and as well as in awareness creation for effective food regulatory systems as well as for competitiveness of the Made in Africa Agricultural Products and the MMMEs, while taking advantage of the 4th Industrial Revolution under the ARSO African 4th Industrial Revolution Standardisation Strategy which was launched on 9th December 2021. The initiatives are in tandem with the FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-31, for the Four Betters: better production, nutrition, environment, life for all, leaving no one behind.