By Yemi Akinsuyi
To ensure the safety of food of animal origins, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has embarked on certification of the aquaculture industry in the country.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Ezekiel Oyemomi, stated this at the opening ceremony of a one-day preparatory meeting of the National Codex Committee, NCC technical sub-committee on animal and animal products, fish and fishery products in Abuja.
Oyemomi said: “A ministerial codex committee (MCC) has been put in place to coordinate codex activities and other food safety issues. A number of officers have also participated at both local and international meetings”.
The permanent secretary, who was represented by the Acting Director, Federal Department of Fisheries, Dr. Joseph Nyagal, explained that “all these efforts are aimed at promoting quality assurance and ensure wholesomeness of foods of animal origin to the consuming public”.
Oyemomi observed that in order to further strengthen food safety systems and chains, there was the need for government, industries and consumers to work together to strengthen food safety, locally and internationally.
He said the ministry had embarked on the implementation of programmes to transform the agriculture sector in line with the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The permanent secretary said this was why the various commodity value chains in fisheries, livestock and crops were being strengthened to promote the federal government's agricultural policy.
Also speaking, the Acting Director, Federal Department of Fisheries, Dr. Joseph Nyagal, stressed the need to kick against sharp practices, pointing out that the technical sub-committee was set up to deliberate on the safety of fish and fishery products.
Nyagal, who spoke through the Deputy Director of Aquaculture, Mr. Akintunde Atanda, said: “Consumers need to be well informed about safety in their food practices and there is also the need to be of greater awareness of how their demands can drive the industry”.
The director added that they must be at the centre of any food solution, and said the committee was expected to come up with a national position on issues that would be deliberated at the 32nd session of the Codex Committee on the products.
According to him, responding to food safety challenges need system-based, scientific-based and cross-sectoral approach where government, industry and consumer work together for clear responsibilities so as to promote Nigerian fish trade at the regional and international markets.
He explained that the codex is a collection of internationally recognised standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety, which tends to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade.
The meeting, he added is to prepare the country for the 32nd session of the Codex Committee on fish and fishery products slated for Bali, Indonesia from October 1-5, this year.