UNIDO Director for Trade and Investment, Mr. Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, says investment plays a critical role national prosperity.
In a keynote at the 1st Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum on Wednesday in Lagos, he said there was the need to have a holistic approach to investment to get the needed results.
The UNIDO director who spoke on “The Role of UNIDO in Food Safety and Investment Promotion’’ explained that UNIDO’s approach to investment was to work through industrial parks.
According to him, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need innovation to survive.
Calzadilla-Sarmiento said that achieving the Sustaining Development Goals (SDGs) would require global investments far beyond the current levels of development and finance.
He said that standards were a tool to advance food safety; which would work to bring about three standards.
The UNIDO boss listed the standards to include economic competitiveness, social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability.
He therefore advised the Nigerian government to adopt more pragmatic steps towards achieving greater economic prosperity.
Meanwhile, the forum has ended with stakeholders in the agriculture and health sectors expressing concern over reported cases of increase in non-communicable diseases in Nigeria arising from contaminants.
This is contained in a communique issued at the end of the two-day 1st Nigeria Food Safety and Investment Forum, organised by UNIDO, Federal Government of Nigeria and funded by EU.
However, the stakeholders advised on the usage of food grade stainless steel materials in the fabrication of daily used food processing equipment such as grinding machines.
They noted that the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health towards improving the National Food Safety Management system was commended especially the ongoing implementation of the National Policy on Food Safety and its Implementation Strategy.
The participants also recommended adequate funding, involvement and participation of the private sector and NGOs.
“There must be an efficient and effective system of information transfer between public and private sectors.
“Collaboration, cooperation and communication between Government Ministries, Regulatory Agencies, Support Net, Industry, Consumers, Producers, and Research Institutes need not be over-emphasised,’’ the participants said.
Borrowing from the Brazilian experience, they said that consumers must be empowered by appropriate legislation such that burden of proof could be placed on the company the rather than the consumers.
They said: “Periodic surveillance of levels of contamination and incidences of food borne diseases is strategic to management of public health and should be legislated at all tiers of government.
“Operators in the food industry should begin to look less toward banking industry for funding as there are other means of intelligent funding such as crowd funding and venture capitalists.’’
According to them, the creation of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Directorate in NAFDAC is dedicated toward ensuring safe foods along food value chain.
They also said that accreditation of NAFDAC and SON Food Laboratories was commendable, but there was need for more laboratories within the value chain.
“Since government MDAs generate a lot of technical useful data from their activities, the forum advised that this information should be communicated to the larger audience through innovative and effective media.
“This should include traditional town criers, TV drama episodes and not limited to internet medium.
“There should be National Reference Laboratories located in areas of major production, for analysis and contaminants in food and agricultural products,’’ they advocated.
The stakeholders further recommended for better collaboration between public and private sectors as well as increased self-regulation through trade/umbrella associations.
The forum strongly advised for regulatory policy for accredited food scientists in every food processing company especially those with high risk.
“In view of incessant reportage implicating pesticides, we encourage promotion of integrated pest management application in pest control.
“In order to promote and encourage safe and quality products, reward systems in form of food awards should be instituted for honouring companies that have done well yearly.
“We advocate for provision of funds and infrastructure for surveillance, enforcement and laboratory investigation since laboratory support is critical,’’ the communique said.
The forum also recommended the establishment of more accredited private laboratories across the country to complement the existing government laboratories.
Besides, the communique advised that UNIDO should consider organising subsequent food safety and investment fora in Nigeria to boost safe food production.
NAN also reports that the forum was attended by the Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development and Health as well as the representatives of the ministers of Environment; Industry, Trade and Investment; Science and Technology.
Also in attendance were the Acting Director-General of NAFDAC, Coordinating Director of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS); and representatives of the directors-general of SON and CPC.
The National President of Nigerian Institute of Science and Technology (NIFST), who also doubled as the Chairman of the Council of Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN), UNIDO, WHO, MSMEs, NGOs, private sectors and the media were also in attendance.