KATHMANDU: The government is close to make Nepal a hotspot for trade of food commodities in compliance with Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Measures Agreement as prescribed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The agreement allows the WTO member countries to trade food products, live animals and animal products, and plant and plant products.
In order to give a final shape to the SPS, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) recently concluded a year-long groundwork in three phases so that the country can gain a competitive edge in global market.
The WTO-sponsored programme is coordinated by Food and Agricultural Organisation.
Being a member of WTO, it is mandatory for Nepal to abide by SPS if it really aspires to boost export.
Talking to The Himalayan Times, Pramod Koirala, spokesperson at Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), said, "It has also something to do with food safety, food hygiene and hazard. Food safety is an assurance that the product won't cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared or eaten according to its intended use".
He explained that food hygiene referred to as the measures which ensure the safety of food at all stages of its chain. While, hazard is biological, chemical and physical agent of food with the potentiality of causing an adverse effect on health.
"Most of the food products exported to foreign countries are yet to secure niche market thus far due to their failure to meet WTO standard. Therefore, it is getting late to act on it," said Koirala.
The MoAC has churned out 210 trained personnel, including food inspectors and researchers, to face the global market.
During the preparation phase, a few international experts and trainers were also called in. Food manufacturers, farmers, lawyers, district administrators, experts, technician and trainees were participated in the project that ended in three phases. While, some trainees trained themselves in Thailand. "We believe that Nepal will now secure a place in global market, albeit small," argued Koirala.
Meanwhile, the government has made it mandatory for food manufacturers and industries to acquire Import Permit to clear the hurdles for importing food commodities — water, powder milk and vegetable oil — to ensure the food safety. However, Export Permit is voluntary.