EU, FAO issue 28bn/- for plant health drive

20Nov 2021
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
EU, FAO issue 28bn/- for plant health drive

PLANT health improvement is earmarked for uplifting in a project bringing together the government, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Union (EU), in a four-year engagement.

This objective was given in a statement released yesterday by the UN agency, saying that the project,   ‘Strengthening plant health services in Tanzania for enhanced food safety,’ as plant health includes the protection of plants as well as scientific and regulatory frameworks for controlling plant pests or pathogens.

It seeks to address administrative and technical constraints relevant to plant health, in the context of deteriorating agricultural trade, endangering food security and food safety, the agency noted.

 The overall budget for the project is put at euro 10.6m (about 28bn/-) with the EU contributing euro 10m and FAO tabling euro 350,000 while the government puts on the table euro 250,000 for the project.

The project is set to be implemented nationwide with beneficiaries as including plant health service providers, crop producers and traders, where Zanzibar regions are included, and special focus is given to women and youth.

Dr Patrice Talla, the FAO sub-regional coordinator for Southern Africa and country representative, acknowledged EU support, citing the importance of the project not just to Tanzania but the wider region.

“We believe that through increasing capacity of the Tanzanian authorities to control pests of quarantine importance, toxic pesticide residues and the improvement in produce traceability and safety certification, Tanzania will gain more access to markets within southern Africa, and this will open doors to more trade and increased income for farmers,” he stated.

In Tanzania, FAO is implementing the project in tandem with the Ministry of Agriculture, with a key objective being an increase in the resilience of livelihoods to plant threats and crises, he said.

Charles Tulahi, assistant FAO country representative said that; by establishing systems for traceability and surveillance, along with improving inspection capacity, the project will improve farmers’ resilience to pests through precautions arising from early warning. This will also improve prospects for market access, he stated.

Through the EU funded project, plant health and pesticide laboratories in Tanzania will be fully equipped to enable detection, diagnosis and traceability of pests, as a strong pest surveillance system is put in place.

Experts will be trained to oversee international standards for pest and pesticide regulations, where no pest of quarantine importance or toxic pesticide residue will be exported from Tanzania under the project, he stated.

 Similar regulatory capacity is to be imparted for imported consignments thereby enhancing food safety and increasing prospects for trade, the programme manager specified.

Ambassador Manfredo Fanti, head of the European Union delegation to Tanzania and the East African Community (EAC), said that adoption of strict surveillance protocols and sanitary certification will allow quality agricultural export products from Tanzania to access exigent and lucrative markets abroad. At the same time, Tanzanian consumers will benefit from safer and healthier products, he elaborated.

Mdili Katemani, heading plant quarantine and phytosanitary services at the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) said the EU funded project comes at an opportune moment as the country seeks to reopen, so that Tanzania farmers can explore new markets.

Successful implementation of the project will improve the trust of our trade partners in our produce, he added.