By Chioma Obinna
The Federal Government yesterday declared that issues of all-encompassing food safety and public health can no longer be treated with levity in the country as part of strategies to boost Nigeria’s export of food and agricultural produce to the international markets without rejection on safety grounds.
The government also expressed its readiness to take issues of food safety seriously in order to safe guard the economic and public health of Nigerians.
Minister of Agric and Rural Development, Chief Audi Ogbeh, who spoke yesterday at the first Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum, organised by the UN Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, in Lagos said the forum was designed to enhance food safety and foster international business cooperation.
The theme of the Forum is: “ Examining the Interconnection of Food, Safety, Public Health, Investment and Food Trade.”
Also speaking, Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, disclosed that with support from UNIDO and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Federal Government, with stakeholders that constitute the National Food Safety Management Committee (NFSMC), has commenced the implementation of the Food Safety Policy to the point of production of the Draft National Food Safety & Quality Bill.
Also speaking, the Acting Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni said as part of efforts to achieve food safety, the agency has instituted a directorate on Food regulation and safety to take charge of foods right from the start which is the farm to the finished products.
On his part, the Director Trade and Investment, UNIDO, Mr Bernado Calzadilla- Sarmiento, has said that trade investment and promotion were key drivers for economic and inclusive growth.
Calzadilla- Sarmiento noted that concerted efforts from the private, public sectors and the academia were required to ensure global food safety and economic growth.