Papua New Guinea will host this 12th session of the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Codex Committee for North America and the South West Pacific (CCNASWP) from September 19 – 22.
DAL Acting Secretary Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava said preparations are well underway for the meeting which is expected to attract over 80 international and local delegates. He said respective Ministers of Agriculture and Health from PNG are expected to officiate at the formal launching and closing ceremonies of the four-day meeting.
Dr Ila’ava said PNG is expected to gain more international recognition in the work of Codex and food safety standards through the hosting of the regional meeting.
PNG, being a member country of FAO and WHO, has global obligations and participates meaningfully in the protection of consumer health, fair trade practices to address food security needs and social being; and reducing of hunger and poverty.
The regional meeting will also strengthen PNG’s efforts in setting better standards for its food products both for consumption and export markets.
DAL and Health Department are the two key government departments involved in organizing the meeting with other partners including WHO and FAO.
Dr Ila’ava said that the CCNASWP comprises of member countries that include Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Nauru. PNG through DAL is a member of CCNASWP, which enjoys the benefit of sharing Codex technical information between countries in these two regions. PNG is now taking its turn as regional coordinator of the CCNASWP, after Tonga.
Dr Ila’ava further states that DAL became the Codex Contact Point for PNG in 1989 and has undertaken a number of activities in partnership with relevant stakeholders, giving recognition to the work of food standards and food safety standard development and capacity building.
The work of food standards and Codex has become significant not only in safeguarding consumer health protection, but also in international trade harmonisation between multilateral and bilateral trading partners.
Dr Ila’ava stated that one of the significant developments has been the establishment of the PNG National Codex Committee comprising of DAL, Health, National Institute of Standard and Industrial Technology (NISIT), Independent Consumer Competition Commission (ICCC), NAQIA, NCD and industries.
In DAL, the Agro Food Safety and Codex PNG secretariat has also been established within the Science and Technology Branch. A national policy for sanitary and phyto-sanitary compliance has also been developed as part and parcel of Integrated Coordination Mechanism for the food sector.
Codex Alimentarius Commission is an international body with over 182 members, within the framework of the joint food standard programme established in 1963 under FAO and WHO. Its purpose is to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. The commission also promotes coordination of food standards work undertaken by intentional governmental and non-governmental organizations.