As Nigeria awaits the National Assembly the pass the National Food Safety and Quality bill, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has convened stakeholders to a workshop on the implementation of the bill when passed into law.
The workshop was organized by NESG and the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Export Alliance (FAEA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the University of Missouri (UoM), and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
The Chief Operating Officer and Senior Fellow of NESG, Dr. Tayo Aduloju said what they had done as stakeholders is to comprehensively engage all the levels of government, and in this event, we have representatives of different ministers driving this bill.
He said they have been holding a series of workshops regarding the bill and they had also established additional advocacy at the level of the presidency just to point to the urgency of the moment.
“What we have done as stakeholders is to comprehensively engage all the levels of government, and in this event, we have representatives of different ministers driving this bill. At the National Assembly, we have engaged at the level of principal officers that are assigned to agriculture and food security matters.
“Everyone is on board, this is one workshop in a series of workshops that we have had. We have also activated additional advocacy at the level of the presidency just to point to the urgency of the moment.
“We have finished the bulk of the technical work; this workshop helps to resolve any pending matters that may be a hindrance to the lawmakers unanimously passing the bill that would be resolved in the next 48 hours. This bill deals with the quality of food.
Speaking on the benefits of the bill when passed, the Team Lead of, the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable (NASSBER), Nsikan Essien said the bill does not just look at the regulatory aspect, but focuses also on food and feed operators, down to the consumers.
She said the bill will sanitize the nation’s food system and ensure that what Nigerians eat as food is safe and of good quality.
“So, when you look at the ecosystem and you and you try to analyze the importance of this, it will ensure that what is on your plate is safe and of good quality.
“So, the importance of food safety and quality legislation when passed into law is that it will, first of all, create an overarching framework that would allow all relevant Ministries Departments, and Agencies to work in harmony to ensure that there is all control point, there is no gap in the control point.
“However, they are not clogging the space with regulatory activities. So, when we look at food safety, you would ask why it is even domiciled in the Federal Ministry of health, the reason is that health is critical to man and if you have a bill that takes care of the sustainability of man, it doesn’t look at it from the business point of view where you deal with business owners, but you are taking down to the fact that you can be out of hospital if you are eating right and safe.
“What this also means is that Nigeria will have a good production of food that it can export to other countries and you will see that we have an increase in our economy. So the bill is multi-sectoral”, Essien noted.
A representative from the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. John Atanda the bill was developed as a result of gaps and lapses in the system. He said the bill will define the functions of the government agencies and ministries, including the state and local governments.
“Before now, something led to the development of the bill, because of the gaps and lapses in the system that was existing before, that is overlapping of functions among the competent authorities, so that’s why this was trying to entrench a system that will not cause confusion, that every authority delegate functions to every tier of government, even the federal government has its own role to play, the state governments and local governments have their roles to play.
“The safety of food is not end-tested, it is supposed to be inbuilt, even from the farm, the quality of seed that was planted, in harvesting, processing, even in transportation, which is why we say the safety of food is inbuilt. It is only when you eat safe food that you derive the benefits from the food. That is why the ministry of health is very interested in the bill because it is part of our mandate”, he stated.
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