March 15, 2022 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) : IGAD region is rich in livestock resources and the home of over 336 million ruminants. It exports about 50% and less than 10% of live animals and meat respectively to Middle East and North African (MENA) countries’ annual demand. This shows there is a big potential to increase market share if appropriate measures are taken. One of the major challenges is inadequate information flow and limited transparency regarding sanitary measures between the exporting and importing countries. As a remedy, IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) in collaboration with FAO established an inter-regional technical committee of Chief Veterinary Officers of IGAD and MENA countries to frequently discuss and review the impediments to exports and propose solutions. This inter-regional platform is now functional and held four annual meetings since 2016 and believed to enhance trust and transparency among the two regions. As a follow up ICPALD/IGAD organized the 5th inter-regional technical collaboration hybrid meeting ( both physical and virtual ) between IGAD member states and MENA countries’ chief veterinary officers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 15-16 March 2022.
The workshop was officially opened by H.E Dr. Fikru Regassa , State Minister of Livestock; Ministry of Agriculture, and CVO of Ethiopia. He emphasized on the importance for IGAD countries to enhance animal disease surveillance, vaccination and disease control as one way of improving compliance with sanitary requirements to increase their market share to MENA countries. To this effect, IGAD member states have signed MOUs on crossborder coordination and collaboration on animal health and sanitary measures, developed Standard methods and procedures (SMP) & Standard operating procedures (SOP) for export quarantines and trained quarantine staff to promote compliance with SPS measure of importing countries. Dr. Ameha Sebsibe representing Director of ICPALD, and Dr. Ricarda reprsenting FAO Sub-regional Coordinator made welcome remarks. Participants from importing countries were CVOs and officers in-charge of quarantine facilities from Egypt, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Qatar. From IGAD countries CVOs of Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan; Djibouti and Ethiopia participated.
The meeting reviewed the presentations; discussed and recommneded the following for actions by the concerned bodies and agreed to monitor the actions.
- Strengthen the capacity of public and private sector for assurance of SPS compliance and market access
- Strengthen information exchange between regulatory agencies and private sectors involved in the export –import processes
- Strengthen collaboration with transit countries
- Encourage investment in transportation, and cold chain
- Training of traders on import requirements
- KSA also proposed for exporting countries to assign a focal person for ease of communication and link up with her focal person
- IGAD to write to GCC secretariat for harmonized test methods (test kits and reagents) halal procedures etc for application by GCC countries for IGAD countries. Qatar delegate confirmed his country accepts any halal certificate provided by any of the GCC country. As this saves time and money
- Suggested to invite Libya and Iraq in the next meeting as they are interested to import from IGAD countries
- ICPLAD to dedicate a page in its web site to post some relevant materials including import requirements and any other relevant information for MENA/IGAD and beyond.
- ICPLAD to create a Whats-app group IGAD-MENA platform to facilitate information exchange.
- IGAD CVOs and technical staff should always inform their exporters of any change in import requirements as received from MENA counterparts to mitigate non- compliance with sanitary measures
- IGAD to continue supporting the IGAD-MENA technical committee and the private sectors group to facilitate open communication, enhance transparency and thereby promote trade between the two regions
- The meeting also advised Ethiopia to undertake mission to KSA to discuss on the revised protocol and resume trade like Djibouti and Somalia.
- Sudan to re-intitate the discussion on lifting the ban from the UAE; if required IGAD /ICPALD to support on resolving the issues
ICPALD expresses its appreciation to FAOSFE for funding this activity.