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Codex Members gather in Mexico to develop standards for fresh fruits and vegetables

Members and Observers from over 30 countries will meet in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico from 7 to 11 October 2019 to develop standards at the 21st session of the Codex Committee on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (CCFFV). Chaired by Alfonso Guati Rojo Sánchez, Director General for Standards in the Ministry of Economy, Mexico, the meeting will examine a range of standards where the committee is close to proposing adoption to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, including kiwifruit, garlic and ware potatoes. Countries take part in this committee often because they wish to follow a particular standard for a product that they produce or trade in. Hélène Gonnet from the Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland will be attending CFFV for the first time. “Given the potential for reducing the technical barriers to trade that quality standards represent, I want to understand the issues and positions presented by the delegations. In addition, it's an opportunity to build a network of business standards managers”, she said. Shukuru Bizimungu from Rwanda said the meeting is important “because it makes standards that will be used by regulators. I expect big economies to listen to positions put forward by developing economies to enable them to trade fairly”. Countries have an opportunity attending Codex meetings to gain valuable knowledge and information regarding the trade of fresh fruits and vegetables and also “contribute to ongoing and emerging discussions on commodities of interest, in our case, to Fiji and Pacific trade”, said Nilesh A. Chand. Chief Plant Protection Officer in the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji. Monterrey Mexico CCFFV21

Monterrey, cityscape

Saudi Arabia is conducting comprehensive technical reviews of current fresh fruit and vegetable regulations. “I believe the work of CCFFV is integral to this endeavor and a great opportunity to experience the dynamics and interactions taking place during the deliberations of the committee”, said Sami Alnokhilan from the Codex Contact Point in the Saudi Food and Drug Authority. It is not always possible for countries to participate personally in Codex meetings. Rolande Ingrid Rachel Fouemina from the Standards and Quality Agency in Congo will not be present in Mexico but said: “The recurring problems of malnutrition and food poisoning encountered in several regions in our country, the lack of knowledge of crops, the mispricing of agricultural production, the lack of control of seasonal 'plagues' which attack and destroy crops, and the problems of processing and preserving agricultural products, are all reasons for wanting to participate”. New Zealand has a substantial and thriving horticultural sector, and a large proportion of its produce is exported to worldwide destinations. “We therefore support international standards that facilitate market access for fresh fruit and vegetables and attending this meeting is an integral part of establishing positive international working relationships that can only benefit the development of Codex Standards at the drafting stages”, said a spokesperson from the Ministry for Primary Industries. In Colombia the issues related to fresh fruits and vegetables are strategic and the agri-food sector is a priority due to the diversity of products Colombia produces with great export potential. Johana Arabella Molano Agudelo, part of the Colombian delegation expects CCFFV to continue advancing projects, taking into account the positions of Colombia, enabling them to seize commercial opportunities through access to international markets. Maricruz Ramirez, from the Postharvest Technology Lab at the Universidad de Costa Rica, will be attending the meeting. Costa Rica have been leading work on developing a proposed draft standard for yams, one of three new draft texts the committee will be examining. “I expect to obtain feedback to improve the yam proposal and reach agreements on issues such as size and diseases tolerances - as well as providing feedback on the other standards under development”, she said. The fruit and vegetable sector is particularly important for Morocco as it occupies an area of ​​more than 1.3 million hectares including more than one million fruit plantations and 240 000 hectares of vegetable crops. Spokesperson Mohamed Asbbane said: “We expect CCFFV to take into account comments and proposals from Morocco made in documents submitted and to exchange information with the different delegations on points of common concern”. Germany brings expertise to CCFFV as an importing country trading with fresh fruit and vegetables based on Marketing Standards. “International Marketing Standards should be easy applicable and fulfill the needs of traders, consumers and inspection bodies”, said Michael Girnth, of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food. A spokesperson from the UK delegation said: “The UK is looking forward to a productive CCFFV21 with a view that the Committee will progress its work on important commodity standards that reflect current custom and trade practices to protect everyone, everywhere”. Monterrey Mexico CCFFV21

CCFFV is meeting in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico.

India expects to be heavily involved in Mexico also presenting two of the draft proposals; on ware potatoes and fresh dates. In their view, participation is essential if a country’s concerns are to be properly addressed. “We are in the process of harmonizing our standards with Codex Standards to facilitate trade of fresh fruits and vegetables … and to protect consumer health”, said Pushpinder J. Kaur from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. India would also like to see the committee meet more frequently so all proposals can be handled in a timely manner. Iran has also played a role in drafting text on kiwifruit, onions and shallots at CCFFV and is seeking to move work forward to the next stage. Iran is also one of the largest exporters of fresh dates and wishes to “increase its involvement in the development of a standard”, said Nadia Ahmadi an Iranian expert on fruits and vegetables. Uganda also sees great advantages in attending CCFFV. In the African region standards can impact on the livelihood of farmers negatively if they are unable to meet the limits established in the standards. “I expect the meeting to harmonise standards where consensus failed last time the meeting was held in Kampala, as well as learn more about the standard development process”, said Moses Matovu. Canada is both an importer and exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables. “CCFFV works to develop fresh fruit and vegetable standards that can be used in international trade to contribute to a uniform trading language and fair trading practices. This is of importance to Canada”, said Kevin Smith from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. In a globalized world with rapid expansion of trade, industrialization and technology, standardization of the products discussed at CCFFV is a dynamic process, can stimulate the movement of fresh fruits and vegetables in international markets and remove barriers to trade. In Tanzania the production of garlic, ware potatoes, onions and yams provide substantial employment, income, livelihood improvement and foreign revenue to the country. “My expectation is that after this meeting it is through setting harmonized standards that Tanzania can access the international market”, said Stephen Rwabunywenge, from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.

it will be necessary to avoid redundancies and divergences between existing international standards

Malika EL Krayass, from the French delegation said: “Initially established for the standardization of tropical fruits and vegetables, CCFFV is now developing standards for fresh fruits and vegetables, products for which there is sometimes already an international standard developed within the UNECE framework. The existence of divergences between the two standards has been underlined and this situation complicates the understanding of the international rules applicable by the operators”. Many countries present are predominantly agricultural and livestock countries possessing a high capacity to produce food for the world. Leticia Soria representing Paraguay said: “We seek to increase the standards of quality and safety of national production and for this purpose we use Codex Alimentarius standards as a reference”. Many delegates see CCFV as an opportunity to advance the topics that are on the agenda, to reach agreements that benefit world trade in fruits and vegetables and a valuable occasion to generate bonds and to share experiences with colleagues of other countries.

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