European Union provides 33 vehicles to strengthen food safety activities and phytosanitary inspections in BiH

To build capacity in the food safety and phytosanitary sectors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and support the country to align with EU standards, the European Union is providing 33 new off-road vehicles worth €467,000 to be used by authorities in the country for phytosanitary inspections and food controls and monitoring.

The keys of 14 of these vehicles were handed over today by the Head of the Delegation of the European Union and EU Special Representative, Ambassador Johann Sattler to the Director of the Food Safety Agency of BiH Džemil Hajrić, Minister of the FBiH Ministry of Agriculture Šemsudin Dedić and Director of the FBiH Administration for Inspection Affairs Anis Ajdinović.

As a result of this donation, food and feed chain related monitoring will be faster, the period from the moment of taking a sample during the phytosanitary border inspections until the final analysis will be shortened and the time spent on the issuance of phytosanitary certificate will be reduced.

At an event to mark the handover Ambassador Sattler said: “Health comes first. By protecting plants, we protect our lives. By ensuring safe food, we make our food supply chain stable and viable.  Food control and safety are of paramount importance for the EU market, which has over half a billion consumers and over 45 million employees in the agricultural and food sectors. I call the authorities in the sector to continue the professionalisation of phytosanitary services, the improvement of phytosanitary control, the regulation of the internal market in line with the EU market and the harmonization of legislation with the legislation and phytosanitary standards of the European Union.”

Director Hajrić emphasized the importance of this donation which will help the food safety sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina and added: “In addition to this donation, it is important to point out that the EU will help us improve our capacities regarding the implementation of new legislation. We already have a project worth 1.5 million euros in the implementation phase, which is already bringing certain results, and with additional IT equipment provided by the EU, BiH will be able to meet all our tasks in the sector of food safety in BiH.”

Minister Dedić thanked the European Union for numerous projects and stressed: “In addition to consumer protection, we must prove the quality of our products through the institutional and legislative framework and thus enable preconditions for exporting our products for export to the EU and other countries. Thanks to the support of the EU, we will strengthen our institutions, so that BiH would have quality products and new markets, but also as many employees as possible in the sector of agriculture and food industry.”

Director Ajdinović emphasized the importance of this donation, which will contribute to the strengthening of the food control system and enable consumers to have healthy and quality food. “This is about consumers in BiH, but also consumers in the EU, because BiH exports more and more to EU countries every day. These vehicles will improve cross-border and internal control, and inspectors will be more mobile in reaching the businesses that export and supply the BiH market with food,” said Ajdinovic.

15 of the 33 vehicles were already handed over to the Inspectorate of Republika Srpska and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Republika Srpska on 2 September, while the handover of four more vehicles to Brčko District of BiH will soon take place.

Through several ongoing projects, the European Union is working to build the capacities in BiH in the food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary sectors. Currently, there are three twinning projects in BiH worth six million euros aiming to strengthen the institutional capacities and approximate these sectors in BiH with European Union legislation. In addition, using Instrument for Pre-Accession funds, the European Union will procure high quality IT equipment (laptops and desktops, printers, multi-function and network devices, etc.) for authorities working in the phytosanitary inspection and food safety and monitoring sectors in BiH.