NAIROBI– East African Community (EAC) member states are keen to fast-track harmonization of food standards in order to boost intra-regional trade, officials said Wednesday.

Mary Mwale, head of food security at Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, said in the Kenyan capital Nairobi that the region has agreed to strengthen cooperation and take a joint approach in mutual recognition of safety standards at the border points. 

“Different sanitary and phytosanitary measures for animal and plant health are hindering the free movement of agricultural products within the trading bloc,” Mwale said during a regional public-private sector consultative forum on EAC safety standards. 

Frank Mmbando, assistant director at Tanzania’s Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade, said similar food and feed safety measures in the EAC will enhance the competitiveness of agricultural commodities traded within and beyond the region, denoting that harmonization will also help curb transboundary animal diseases, as well as address the problem of weak identification and traceability of animals that impact cross-border livestock trade flows.

Mathilda Mukasekuru, acting director of the General Animal Resources Development at Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said the agricultural sector in the EAC faces common food safety challenges.

Mukasekuru said safety measures through laws, decrees and regulations should be applied to protect animal and plant life within a territory of the country from potential risks. – Xinhua