EU hands over mobile food-testing lab to BFA

Islamabad: The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Riina Kionka handed over keys to a mobile food-testing laboratory to the Balochistan Food Authority (BFA) at a ceremony held in Quetta on Wednesday.

This was part of the Growth for Rural Advancement and Sustainable Progress (GRASP) project, funded by the European Union, and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), said in a press release issued here.

Provincial Minister for Food, Engineer Zmarak Khan, Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili, Secretary Food Ayaz Mandokhel, as well as officials from the Balochistan Food Authority also attended the event.

Following an assessment of the Food Authorities of Sindh and Balochistan in 2020, the GRASP identified the need to provide mobile food testing facilities to both provinces to help support the implementation of food safety standards and overall quality assurance of food items being supplied to markets.

As part of its duties, the van will also be used to check for food contamination to ensure, in particular processed foods, are free from undeclared ingredients, are accurately labeled and are compliant with relevant food safety standards and rules. Equipped with a suite of testing technology, along with its crew of technicians, the van will provide expert on the spot scientific expertise to help support both consumer confidence, but also public health.

Through GRASP, the officials of BFA have also been trained on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) compliance issues in relation to requirement for wider market access, including towards potential international exports, in addition to supporting and reviewing regulatory and operational frameworks of the authority, towards its overall strengthening and operational capacity.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Riina Kionka said, “The EU is pleased to hand over the first mobile laboratory testing facility to the Balochistan Food Authority. This is a milestone to be celebrated and the starting point of the future commitment of the Balochistan Government to improving food safety not only in the province, but Pakistan as a whole.”

Provincial Minister Food Zmarak Khan thanked the EU’s support to the provincial government and recognized the investment made through GRASP, which is working closely with the government which is not only supporting Balochistan SMEs in horticulture and agriculture, but also enhancing the capacity of government institutions through targeted trainings.

Chief Secretary Balochistan Abdul Aziz Uqaili appreciated the support EU has provided to the province and stressed on the close partnership and continued support to provide a safe and healthy environment for SMEs, especially in rural areas to become competitive with the national and global markets.

The GRASP is working for poverty reduction and sustainable, inclusive growth through development of rural small and medium-sized enterprises in select districts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. The project’s outcome aims to enhance the productivity and profitability of SMEs involved in primary production, service provision, and value addition in and around selected clusters of production.