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VETERINARY CHIEFS AGREE COMMON POSITIONS ON STANDARDS AT ABUJA WORKSHOP

By Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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ABUJA, Nigeria, April 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- West Africa's Chief Veterinary Officers have agreed on harmonized standards for key areas in animal health to be presented to African delegates at the April 2013 meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to be held first in Abidjan, followed in May by the organization's General Assembly to be held in Paris.

The regional position emerged after a workshop in Abuja for the veterinary chiefs and animal health experts which ended on Friday, 29th March 2013 and which reviewed reports of the scientific and code commissions, as well as the ad hoc working groups of the OIE with a view to identifying and analyzing the rationale, justification and the impact of proposed changes on trade in animal products in West Africa.

In particular, they identified areas of priority and common interest for ECOWAS Member States, as well as proposed common positions for the ECOWAS region.

The meeting, which was organized by the ECOWAS Commission, in collaboration with the African Union African Union Inter-Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), among other issues, reviewed the analysis conducted on the reports of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Scientific, Ad hoc and Code Commissions for submission to the OIE Paris meeting.

Addressing the workshop at the opening, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, who was represented by the Director of Environment, Dr. Johnson Boanuh, said the workshop was to further strengthen West Africa's say in international standards setting and encourage the development of a pool of expertise on standards setting in developing livestock value chain.

He said this would both enhance trade and support for the production of healthy and whole some foods for ECOWAS citizens.

In his remarks, the Chief Veterinary Officer and OIE delegate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nyager, while noting the importance of standards in livestock and livestock products, expressed satisfaction with the efforts of AU-IBAR and the ECOWAS Commission in facilitating coordinated responses to the OIE codes, and advancing the issues of standards.

The Director of the AU-IBAR, represented by the Continental Coordinator of the PANSPSO project, Dr. Raphael Coly, said the main challenge facing African countries was the inadequacy of available skills and technology to generate science-based arguments necessary for development of standards.

He said the effective participation at international meetings requires the ability to make meaningful contributions to standards setting, and expressed the hope that the workshop would elaborate a consultative process which would improve the quality of participation and relevance of Member States at continental and international meetings.