On 10 June, a Kick off conference on launching of the EU-Azerbaijan Twinning Project was held via the Zoom platform by the Azerbaijani Food Safety Agency (AFSA), the European Union (EU) Delegation, Latvia and Lithuania as implementing partners on the EU Member State side with participation of some 50 other stakeholders from state institutions as well as non-governmental organizations.
The conference was opened by Dr Zakkiya Mustafayeva, Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijani Food Safety Agency and Ms Simona Gatti, Minister Counsellor and Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Azerbaijan.
The specific objective of the Twinning Project is to strengthen the capacity of AFSA to further develop and enforce SPS compliant legislation with one focus on food and feed of plant origin. This in order to enhance food safety in Azerbaijan and meet relevant requirements of international trade in agri-food products.
Project partners and duration: The project is implemented by AFSA in cooperation with the State Plant Protection Service of the Republic of Latvia and State Plant Service under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania. The project started in November 2020 and will run for 24 months.
The main purpose of the event is to:
The development of regional and international agri-food trade of Azerbaijan is a major pillar of the country’s National Economic Reform Roadmap, adopted by His Excellency President on 6 December 2016. It is important that Azerbaijani products meet the quality and safety of international requirements. From this point of view, the legislation to be drafted in the framework of the Twinning Project, shall bring Azerbaijan’s food safety system in line with best international practices and will lead to enhancing food safety and competitiveness in food industry.
Ms Mustafayeva said: “One of the main tasks ahead is to carry out our organizational mission in these areas. Therefore, we have very high expectations from this project, and I believe that the project will be very useful in terms of increasing the institutional capacity and professional skills of the staff of the Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan Food Safety Institute.
The Azerbaijan Food Safety Agency, which has been fulfilling its functions for almost three years, has taken a number of measures to reach its targets in a short period of time and has made significant achievements for sustaining food safety in our country, specifically in the direction of development of the legislation basis, preparing the normative and technical documents in the mentioned area, creating a technical base and establishing laboratories that meet the most modern requirements. I hope that this project, which will be implemented in the framework of joint cooperation, will have a positive impact on the strengthening of sanitary and phytosanitary measures in our country as a result of interaction and high teamwork and will contribute to the work done in this direction.”
Ms Simona Gatti, Minister Counsellor and Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan, underlined that the project on SPS which was inaugurated, falls broadly into the remit of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy which in turn is a central pillar of the EU’s new Green Deal – the EUs green transformation agenda with objectives of climate neutrality, zero waste and zero emissions by 2050.
Ms Simona Gatti said: “Under the “Farm to Fork” strategy we have committed to maintain the highest levels of food safety while reducing the use of pesticides, fertilizer and antimicrobial agents, expand organic production, limit food waste and promote responsible consumption. These ambitious targets will be supported by research and development of enabling innovations. We are reaching out to our partners around the globe to join us in this effort.
I am therefore very happy to see that with today’s Project Launch we continue our long standing cooperation with Azerbaijan and its Food Safety Agency. The project will help enhance food safety controls, pesticide registration and use in Azerbaijan in line with EU and International Standards. This is good news for agri-food producers, consumers, trade, the environment – and the GREEN DEAL.”
The Ambassadors of Latvia and Lithuania gave their welcoming words. The Project Leader from Latvia Mrs. Kristine Lifanova, the Junior Project Leader from Lithuania Mr. Sergejus Fedotovas, as well as key experts in food safety and plant protection from the AFSA and the EU, who shall be working on the Project’s activities, made presentations at the Kick off the conference.