15 January, 2020
100 million consumers in Egypt will obtain safer and more nutritious food with the implementation of best international practices of grain sampling, testing and fumigation.
Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat and 12.5 million tonnes of wheat imported every year represent almost one quarter of all food calories consumed in the country.
Aiming to enhance inspection and control for the safety and quality of imported grain, the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA) is assuming these responsibilities at Egyptian ports in a step to increase the efficiency of the process.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a workshop today in Cairo to present the best international practices of grain sampling, testing and fumigation to 130 Egyptian public and private stakeholders.
Participants included representatives of the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA), the General Organization for Export and Import Control (GOEIC), the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine (CAPQ), the Egyptian Holding Company for Silos and Storage, and the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), in addition to private sector representatives from several commodity trading companies.
“Aligning inspection controls with international best practices will help Egypt position itself as a reliable trading partner on the global market,” said Iride Ceccacci, Principal of Agribusiness Advisory of the EBRD.
Sampling, testing and fumigation of grains
Record volumes of grain imports reflect the increasing demand for food and feed. It also comes with a growing responsibility for food safety, plant quarantine and other officials to conduct controls expeditiously using risk-based approaches to guarantee efficient food supply. It is not an easy task considering that an average vessel that Egypt imports contains about 25,000 metric tonnes, or roughly 0.7 trillion wheat kernels! Luckily, only about 1.6 million kernels, or 56 kilograms of wheat need to be taken for further analyses.
The training focused on presenting the best techniques in international practice of sampling, testing, and fumigation of grains. International experts addressed critical concerns such as how to obtain a representative sample and what preferred equipment to use; how to address food safety concerns such as excess levels of pesticides and mycotoxins; and how to safely fumigate grain from pests both onboard and in storage.
All hands on deck
The NFSA will introduce the risk-based approach for food products and raw materials for safe human consumption while CAPQ continues to be responsible for phytosanitary inspection of all grains.
“We are dedicated to providing training and expertise to our inspectors to streamline our operations and reduce the time of discharge and release of incoming vessels, thereby focusing on what matters, saving costs and improving efficiency across the supply chain,” said Dr. Hussein Mansour, Chairman of the NFSA.
Public-private dialogue and next steps
Such workshops provide a forum for technical discussions and public-private dialogue, which has proven to be effective in resolving import issues in the past. Today’s training is the first in a series from FAO and EBRD that will focus on providing both theoretical and practical knowledge to both new and experienced inspectors and their management.
“FAO is aiding Egyptian agencies in capacity-development by sharing knowledge of best international practices and standards to support decision-makers, food safety and plant quarantine practitioners, public and private grain suppliers who all have a critical role to play in ensuring Egypt’s food security,” said Nasredin Hag Elamin, FAO Representative in Egypt.
For more information, please see the project page here.