As one way of empowering women for effective participation and contribution towards development of the agriculture sector in their respective countries, SACAU’s 2018 Women’s forum focused on sensitising representatives of female Agripreneurs on SADC trade protocols and the importance of adhering to basic food safety and standards requirements.
Two experts Mrs Margret Lungu of SADCSTAN and Mr Bongani Khanyile of SADCTBTSC were invited to discuss with the representatives on these matters. They made presentations on Effective participation in the development/harmonisation of Regional standards for Agricultural Products and SADC Protocols on Trade – Eradicating TBTs in SADC.
In her presentation, Mrs Lungu talked about the SADC Protocol on trade which provides a framework for cooperation and trade among countries in the region. She stated that among other things, SADC trade protocols aim at easing customs procedures, harmonising national trade policies with regional policies as well as promoting fair trade among trading countries.
She emphatically called upon women farmers (as part of stakeholders) to participate in the process of formulating and harmonising the standards as well as regulations in their respective countries. She contended that agricultural standards proposed by farmers will be deemed more important and relevant than those that are proposed by technical people, thus encouraged women to take an active role in the standards developing processes in their respective countries.
Mr. Khanyile’s presentation focused on how to eradicate Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) in the region. He mentioned that the most important concept in trade is “TRUST” and that trade happens between countries that trust each other. The trust is mainly derived from adhering to the scientifically set regulations and standards. “Each country is expected to have infrastructure and mechanisms that regulate the movement of goods and services to avoid harming the other partner economically, socially and environmentally”, stated Mr Khanyile.
He however indicated that there are some technical barriers to trade that need to be eradicated and these include; import bans, discriminatory rules of origin, stringent quality conditions imposed by the importing country and unjustified SPS conditions (animal /plant health reasons) among others. He also informed participants that, in addition to technical regulations to trade, standards can also become obstacles to trade and these are not legally binding, but some countries might choose to set their standards high to hinder entry of goods and services that are deemed to be of low standards from other countries