The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has signed a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the World Food Programme (WFP) the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger and the agency mandated to provide emergency and development assistance to eradicate hunger and poverty amongst the poorest and most food-insecure Countries and populations.

The MOU which was signed on the 4th April, 2018, will enable the FDA provide technical assistance in the implementation of WFP’s new project called Enhanced Nutrition and Value Chains (ENVAC) in Ghana.

The ENVAC project is an integrated agriculture and nutrition project which aims at reducing stunting and micro-nutrient deficiencies in five regions in Ghana mainly in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern, Brong Ahafo and the Ashanti Regions.

Under the ENVAC project, smallholder farmers in these five regions are encouraged to produce good quality maize and other cereals which they would sell to two chosen industrial food processors in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions.

The project which is being implemented with funding from Canada is supposed to last for five (5) years, (2017-2021) and would revolve around the following three interlinked pillars:

1: Improving local production of nutritious staple foods among smallholder farmers;

 2: Enhancing industrial and community level agro-processing

 3: Boosting consumption of nutritious foods by women and children to prevent stunting.

Under this agreement, the FDA would have oversight responsibilities on the safety and quality management, post production and market surveillance of the two chosen agro-food processing companies (from factories to their retailers points) as well as selected community level agro-food processors to support nutritional value chain development within the regulatory framework of Ghana.

At the production stage, the FDA will provide expertise to help small holder farmers improve food safety and at processing stage, the FDA would provide food safety and quality support to the two chosen industrial processors. At the consumption stage, the FDA will promote hygienic practices during the promotion of nutritious foods at social behaviour change communications programmes.

In her welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mrs. Delese Darko said the FDA values this collaboration greatly because the protection of public health is a shared responsibility. She also said the ceremony marks the beginning of a partnership between the FDA and the WFP in making the ENVAC project a success because their common goal comes from the understanding that the health communities and nations depends on the people.

She also pledged the FDA’s unwavering support in providing technical assistance to the WFP processors on the requirements necessary for initial product approval and subsequent renewal of all products to be produced under the ENVAC project, collect random samples periodically from selected agro food processors facilities, distribution channels and market places(retail points) throughout the Country to conduct microbiological, chemical, physical, organoleptic , nutritional and other analysis per specifications to protect consumers trust and public health at large.

She further said the FDA would ensure its enforcement team conducts monitoring site visits, collects data and reports on activities carried out under the ENVAC project and share with the WFP any inspections and audit reports undertaken on the selected agro –food processors included in the scope of the MOU.

The Representative and Country Director for the WFP, Ms. Rukia Yacoub expressed her delight at the partnership between the WFP and the FDA.  She made mention of a previous collaboration with the FDA, then Food and Drugs Board (FDB) at the time, on a salt iodation programme which saw the fortification of Salt with Iodine to combat iodine deficiency diseases in the Country.

She said the collaboration would create synergies in the technical know-how of the FDA and the WFP at all levels. She also said the partnership would provide food regulatory oversight for the ENVAC activities ensuring safer food for the people who are receiving support and hoped it will also strengthen the FDA’s capacity to carry out food safety activities through the provision of resources available.

The ENVAC programme will culminate in the availability and accessibility of specialized fortified nutritious foods for consumption, in order to capitalize on the 1,000 day window of opportunity to prevent stunting among children. The programme will also promote food-based approaches and use social behavioural change communication to educate people on good nutrition.

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