The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is working with the Nigerian government to help the country ensure its exported and imported food stays safe from farm to fork.
The training is part of FAS capacity-building efforts that support the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000, which aims to boost sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth, spur development and reduce poverty.
At the invitation of the Nigerian government, FAS sent a team of experts to conduct an assessment of Nigeria’s food safety system. They discovered Nigeria needed help developing a program to enforce food safety standards.
From these findings and suggestions, Nigeria established a National Food Safety Committee (NFSC). The NFSC will manage the process of ensuring Nigerian food products meet international safety standards for exports, and thus, bring AGOA’s goals into action by strengthening Nigeria’s export capacity.
FAS partnered with Nigerian Government officials and technical experts to conduct Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) training, which is a standard production and testing practice to ensure a safe and high quality food supply. The training primarily focuses on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures that identify biological, chemical or physical food hazards, such as the foodborne diseases E. coli and salmonella, and appropriate ways to prevent the hazards from entering the food supply.
“Using a science-based method, such as HACCP, instead of relying upon how a food product looks, smells or feels is vital to food safety,” said Teresa Oberti, an international trade specialist for food safety at FAS. “With science we can have hard facts. We can see that if you follow a strict set of procedures during the process of making foods, then you will have a safe product.”
With funding support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FAS held the first training session March 26-30 in Ibadan, Nigeria, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. About 35 participants received an introduction to GMP and HACCP. Initial feedback was positive from the Nigerian participants, Oberti said.
“Many said they would like more food safety training and a follow up to the HACCP program,” she said. “We are always excited when our participants enjoy and learn from our trainings and workshops. The last training was so successful that we have been asked to duplicate our training in other West African countries.”
The second training was a HACCP certification training held August 13-15 in Lagos, Nigeria, for about 110 participants. The target audience was the poultry industry; however, there were also participants from restaurants, grocers, fish-and-food processing companies and Nigerian Government representatives.
In addition to the food safety training, FAS is working with NFSC to develop an action plan to implement the necessary changes needed to improve food safety in Nigeria.
With 70 percent of Africa’s population working in agriculture, FAS’ programs aim to build up Africa’s agricultural sector by increasing local, regional, and global trade capacity. Since its inception, AGOA has helped increase U.S. two-way trade with the region.