The European Union (EU) has donated a mobile food testing van to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC) — under the EC-Nepal WTO Assistance Programme — which is a major step towards safeguarding public health.
The donation is part of the EC-Nepal WTO Assistance Programme which constituted an EU support of two million euros (approximately Rs 228 million), according to the EU.
"The project has come a long way and has contributed substantially in assisting mainly two departments of the government — Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM), and Department of Food Technology and Quality Control — to upgrade the skills of their technical staff with training programmes and their existing laboratories for acquiring international accreditation," said ambassador and head of European Union Delegation to Nepal Dr Alexander Spachis.
The programme that concluded a year ago in 2011 also received the support of UNIDO (Euro170,000) and UNESCAP (Euro27,000), while the government's contribution in kinds amounted to (Euro114,000).
The main goal of the programme was to address the country's trade related obligations following its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in April 2004.
"It will raise hopes for increased exports for Nepal in the years ahead," said Spachis, adding that all the DFTQC testing laboratories have already received international accreditation for 26 different parameters related to food testing and quality control from the India based National Accreditation Board for Laboratories while NBSM laboratories are in the process of getting accreditations.
"Some of the major achievements of the projects are upgrading of the laboratories of the two departments, addition of more equipment, and skilled manpower leading to better prospects of finding an expanded market for Nepal's exports."
"DFTQC is indeed very thankful to the EU for extending its support, which has helped us get international accreditation for our laboratories," said DFTQC director general Jeevan Prabha Lama during the handover ceremony.
"It will help promote Nepal's exports in the international market and have a positive impact in the country's economy in the long run," she said, adding that the Inspection Mobile Lab Van donated by the EU will help in effective and efficient food inspection, as well as respond promptly to consumer issues in food safety in and around Kathmandu valley whenever the need is urgently felt and thereby contribute to safeguarding the health of the general public.
After its accession to WTO, Nepal faced many Technical Barriers to Trade and sanitary and phytosanitary issues, one of which was the absence of laboratories that were on par with international standards.
The successful conclusion of the EC-Nepal WTO Assistance Programme puts the country in a better position to increase its income by profiting from an expanded international market.