Trade is a basic component of economic development and a major portion of development assistance comes under ‘aid for trade’. However, trade brings risks as food shipment can transport insects and diseases threatening agricultural production, human and animal health.
To reduce these risks the World Trade Organization (WTO) encourages member countries to adopt Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures as a way of providing customers with an assurance of quality.
Afghanistan, having recently acceded to the WTO, wants to access and maintain export markets and needs to comply with the importing country’s public and market standards.
Recently, the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) in collaboration with the USAID Kabul Mission entered into a partnership with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) as the lead implementing partner to build the capacity of the Afghan Ministry of Plant Protection and Quarantine Department (PPQD), as well as other stakeholders in the value chain, while improving Afghanistan’s SPS system to facilitate trade.
The inaugural ceremony was held in August at the PPQD office at Badam Bagh, Kabul where Mr Mahbobullah Nang, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), officially announced the ‘Improving Sanitary and Phytosanitary Trade Compliance in Afghanistan’ project.
In the session, the Deputy Minister introduced CABI to MAIL and PPQD officials. Later, Mr Zakria Faizi (SPS Coordinator, CABI) welcomed the participants and introduced CABI’s expertise and the overall project goals, objectives, and activities.
In his remarks, Mr Mahbobullah Nang stated that being a member of WTO requires Afghanistan to fulfil its requirements in facilitating international trade. Currently, Afghanistan lacks a system to manage SPS related issues, which the ‘Improving Sanitary and Phytosanitary Trade Compliance in Afghanistan’ project is designed to address by building the technical capacity of the PPQD staff in order to comply with WTO-SPS standards. These standards will specifically focus on the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)-International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).
Mr Mirjan Hemat (Director, PPQD) thanked USAID, USDA-FAS, and CABI and mentioned how the project will improve the capacity of the PPQD staff and aid the Government of Afghanistan to understand and comply with SPS international standards. He also stated that this project will increase the use of science and risk-based methodology for phytosanitary decision making.
Main photo: CABI engages with Afghan smallholder farmers to help improve their yields through enhanced SPS measures (Credit: CABI).
Dr Muzammil Farooq
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Dr Muzammil Farooq
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