The Agro Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conducted workshops in Rundu and Ongwediva on food safety to informal food vendors.
The training sessions were held at the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub in Rundu and at the Ongwediva Fresh Produce Business Hub in the first week of April.
A total of 21 informal traders were trained at Rundu while 19 were trained in Ongwediva. The theme was “strengthening controls of food safety threats, plant and animal pests and diseases for agricultural productivity and trade in Southern Africa”.
The initiative sensitized food traders on the importance of food safety and quality in relation to trade, health, safety, consumer protection and a sustainable environment while at the same time promoting use of best practices in every process along the value chain.
According to the Manager responsible for food safety and standards at AMTA, Salomon Tsanigab the sessions were put in place following the introduction of the National Food Safety Policy (NFSP) in 2015.
“The overall objective of the policy is to create national awareness on food safety and hygiene procedures to be adopted by consumers, food business operators, and street food vendors and millers to ensure food safety and quality at all times while also making food vendors aware of the importance of food safety and standards in growing their ventures,” he said.
During the training, presentations were given on the different aspect of food safety such as hygiene, good manufacturing and food safety topics which followed in a order of the value chain and process that typically follows the food making process. This includes introduction to food safety, quality and applicable laws. personal hygiene, cleaning and disinfection in food establishments. Buildings and facilities
Meanwhile, providing sufficient safety guarantees on all food products traded nationally or exported to other countries from Namibia is currently being carried out with assistance from the Ministry of Health and Social Services and Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, and the Namibian Informal Sector Association (NISO).
The President of NISO, Veripi Kandenge, said that the role of NISO in this particular programme is to promote the rights of informal traders, while at the same time trying to turn the informal sector into a formal sector by addressing the traders’ concerns and facilitate the smooth transition of the informal sector into the mainstream of the country’s economy.
In her statement, FAO representative Irene Simataa, indicated that “all Namibian people have the right to expect that the food available on the domestic markets is safe and of the expected acceptable quality”.
Meanwhile, AMTA is aware that there are still more Food Business Operators which have not been trained that would see improvement in the quality of their products as long as similar trainings on food safety are extended to them.
“AMTA is determined to play a crucial role in implementing the policy nationally and to have national food security and safety awareness campaign with key stakeholders such as the National Commission on Research Science and Technology, the Namibia Standards Institute along with current stakeholders,” Tsanigab added.
Furthermore, the food safety policy participants were also informed on how to register their business enterprises and how to acquire micro financing and capital to expand their businesses and enter joint ventures with other entrepreneurs.