Seychelles to assess national food control system for better public health
Seychelles is aspiring to narrow the gap between local production capacity and importation although it still depends largely on imports. (Gerard Larose)
Seychelles expects to carry out an assessment of its food control system in the coming months to make it in line with internationally recognised standards.
In order to carry out the assessment, producers of food and food safety officers in the island nation are attending a five-day workshop funded by the European Union for the implementation of a facilitated assessment of quality food produced or imported into the country.
The assessment will be done using the food control system of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At the opening of the workshop on Monday, Flavien Joubert, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, said that such a tool is important especially as Seychelles relies heavily on food imports.
"As a small island, we depend on the global food production and distribution system for a significant portion of our food basket. Almost 90 percent of our food commodities are imported including our staple, which collectively accounts to close to 30 percent of our importation bill," said Joubert.
|Joubert said that such a tool is important for Seychelles which relies a lot on importation. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
The minister added that "while we remain aspirational in our intent to narrow the gap between local production capacity and importation, we are also realistic that Seychelles will continue to depend on food exporting countries to contribute towards our food and nutrition security agenda."
The training and assessment are part of the FAO and the EU's recently ratified project on "Strengthening food control and phytosanitary capacities and governance."
The project foresees the implementation of a facilitated assessment of the national food control system, using the FAO/WHO food control system assessment tool in eight countries members of the African Union (AU).
Joubert said that this training could not have been timelier and more propitious as it fits within the framework of Seychelles' agriculture sector and public health sector strategies.
"Both sector strategies call for and accentuate healthy populations. We have seen a shift in the domestic dietary pattern with consequential impact in terms of an increase in overweight and obesity cases across all segments of the population, and also an increase in non-communicable diseases," he explained.
The facilitator of the workshop, Catherine Bessy, senior food safety officer (FAO), said that the tool being used for the assessment project has been used in western countries during the pilot stages while others are choosing it for trial purposes.
The workshop will end on Friday, December 2, while the assessment process will take a number of months after which a food control system national strategic plan will be created.
Participants in the workshop include food producers, the Public Health Authority, the Seychelles Bureau of Standard and the Disaster and Risk Management Division, among others.