Delivering welcome remarks in a video message, DDG Paugam said: “Providing practical support through the STDF to farmers, producers, traders and governments in developing countries is now more important than ever in overcoming supply chain disruptions, keeping trade flowing and ensuring that countries can continue to compete in global markets.”

The STDF is a global multi-stakeholder partnership, housed at the WTO, that supports developing and least developed countries in complying with the WTO SPS Agreement and expanding market access. The partnership has supported more than 65 national and regional projects in Francophone Africa since its creation, representing around 30% of all STDF-funded projects and 34% of total resources.

Showcasing SPS projects

Partners shared the results of two STDF projects: on meeting food safety requirements in the production and export of maize in Burkina Faso, and on tackling SPS risks to meet market requirements for Penja pepper in Cameroon. The session, moderated by Simon Padilla of the STDF Secretariat, illustrated the importance of the public and private sectors working together to increase exports and support long-term socioeconomic benefits.

In Burkina Faso, the technical training and sharing of best practices on the use of the biopesticide Aflasafe, as well as sampling and analysis of aflatoxins, supported an increase in maize exports from 4,238 tons in 2018 to 145,920 tons in 2020. Export revenues increased from $1.8 million to $24 million.

Partners achieved these results despite pandemic-related restrictions, said Soulemane Pierre Sodre, Coordinator of the National Implementation Unit of the Enhanced Integrated Framework of Burkina Faso.

Mr Sodre said: “We came up with solutions, one of which was increasing the frequency of interactions with stakeholders. We also looked at alternative measures to increase activities – for example, organizing a high number of meetings online.”

Reducing aflatoxin levels in maize had the added benefit of promoting food safety in the local market, in addition to increasing international market access, he said.

In Cameroon, farmers increased their understanding of SPS risks and good practices through training activities and explanatory publications, including five brochures using illustrations to indicate key messages.

“With illustrations, the message comes across much more easily,” said Jean-Marie Sop, Secretary-General of the Penja Pepper Geographical Indication Group, Secretary-General of the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), and President of the Penja pepper project Steering Committee. “Producers have different education levels, which is why we rely heavily on these illustrated brochures. We have also prepared handouts that detail the main pests and diseases affecting Penja pepper.”

Partners have also trained 15 trainers, who are now able to train others on various jobs available in the sector — from picking to sorting, processing and packaging pepper.

Penja pepper is now on the European Commission's list of protected geographical indications, as of 17 March.

“The success of these projects lies in their collaborative and holistic approach,” said DDG Paugam. “To ensure long-term impact, technical assistance aimed at strengthening SPS capacities should take developmental, social and environmental aspects into consideration, in all targeted sectors.”

Partnering for change

In closing the session, Christophe Blanc, Agricultural and Fisheries Attaché of the Permanent Mission of France to the WTO, said: “France aims to have high standards for consumer products, without having these standards become trade obstacles for developing countries and least developed countries. These two projects show what the STDF can do: We can see that this double objective of better protection of populations and improvements in trade has been reached.”

Carolyn MacLeod, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the WTO, encouraged other countries to join Canada in participating in and contributing financially to the work of the STDF. She said: “Investments in SPS capacity building can contribute to food security by ensuring food safety, preventing plant and animal diseases, and supporting sustainable agricultural production. The STDF and its partners have a wealth of knowledge, experience and good practices to share with donors and partner countries to improve the effectiveness and impact of development projects.”

The founding partners of the STDF are the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WTO, which houses and manages the partnership. The STDF responds to evolving needs, drives inclusive trade and contributes to sustainable economic growth, food security and poverty reduction, in support of the United Nations' Global Goals.

The next deadline for the submission of applications for project and project preparation grants to the STDF is 12 August 2022.




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