Strengthening SPS management system

The programme formulation mission of TRTA II found that in Pakistan, there exists systemic failure of food safety, plant health and animal health controls. An inception phase review indicates that this has not changed. Fishery product exports to the EU remain closed, due to non-compliance with EC sanitary requirements. The EC’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has continued to publish Rapid Alerts notices in respect of Pakistani food and horticultural products imported into the Community. In Pakistan’s SPS institutions, there is a widespread lack of understanding and awareness of modern SPS management systems, which hampers development of the control system. Controls remain organized on the basis of commodity groups, reflecting functions of Government departments, rather than being arrangement in terms of the risks to be controlled (that is animal health, plant health and food safety). Federal Departments of Animal Quarantine (under MoLDD) and Plant Protection (under MinFA) work exclusively with import/export controls, with no focused effort to integrate activities with controls applied at the domestic level in Pakistan.

In particular, there is no single organizational focus of responsibility at federal level for food safety. Existing activities continue to be undertaken by various bodies; e.g. fish inspection by Marine Fisheries Department and meat inspection activities by Animal Quarantine Department in relation to exports. The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) under the Ministry of Science and Technology also undertake mandatory sanitary controls. On the other hand, there is only limited capacity to ensure SPS controls at places of production (fishing vessels & landing sites, farms, distributors). The result is that food safety controls remain poorly integrated throughout the supply chain (the “farm to fork” principle).

To address the need for a holistic integration of SPS controls, the Government of Pakistan, through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has supported the implementation of a “Special programme for the strengthening of SPS facilities and quality inspection services in compliance with WTO – Establishment of National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services – NAPHIS”. In 2009, the NAPHIS programme was revised and extended until 2011. The current status of NAPHIS is that it has its own premises and professional staff complement. Although it has established a number of activities, including drafting a new Bill, NAPHIS has so far not been able to develop any coherent policy proposal for the development of SPS Management System.

Furthermore, coordination between the different functions and departments with SPS responsibilities has been significantly complicated by the division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Livestock into two Ministries. SPS functions at federal level are now split between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (which includes NAPHIS) and the Ministry of Livestock and Dairy Development. Provincial governments are acting to fill the policy vacuum and have also proceeded rapidly to develop food safety controls, but with no coordination or strategic direction from Federal Government. For example, in Punjab alone, the Fisheries Department is developing new legislation for inspection and control of fishery products, the Livestock Department is developing a meat and dairy inspection agency, and the Department of Health has proposed revision of the Pure Food Rules and the formation of Punjab Food Safety Agency.

These developments serve to increase the need for intervention activities to improve coordination in this area (infrastructure requirements are considered by Component 2.2). NAPHIS has a clear opportunity to lead and coordinate important developments in the SPS area. NAPHIS needs to establish its credibility by taking the policy lead for strengthening of the SPS management system in Pakistan, with a focus on food safety. Hence, the focused activities to achieve the result of Component 2 constitute the following:

  • Strengthening SPS Management System
  • Enhancing application of food safety controls

The proposed result for this sub-component of TRTA II is still appropriate to these needs and the activities outlined above will achieve the expected result.