The third round for countries to apply for support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Codex Trust Fund is now open.

The Codex Alimentarius, or “Food Code” is a collection of standards, guidelines, and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is a joint FAO and WHO program to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade.

The purpose of the fund is to help developing economy countries to build national capacity to engage in Codex. It provides help for up to three years.

This includes awareness raising to secure political and economic support in the country; training courses for members of national Codex committees and development of procedures to guide national Codex work.

Currently, 105 countries are eligible to apply for funding either individually or in a group application with other nations before Nov. 30, 2018.

Codex Alimentarius international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality, and fairness of international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius Commission was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, deputy director-general for programmes of the WHO, said the previous years have seen an increase in the number of applications.

“The Codex Trust Fund helps ensure that Codex standards protect consumer health everywhere and helps drive economic development through access to international trade in food,” she said.

Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, and Senegal were the first countries to receive Codex Trust Fund support in 2016. This helped them create a website and a national procedural manual, train national Codex Committee members and translate Codex standards into national legislation.

Ten countries were selected during the second round of applications from 2018: Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, FYR of Macedonia, Guinea, Honduras, India, Mali, Nepal and Rwanda.

“Within Codex circles, we often hear the expression ‘levelling the trade playing field’, which captures what the Codex Trust Fund does,” said Sarah Cahill, senior food standards officer with the Codex Secretariat.

After the deadline at the end of November, applications will be pre-screened by the Codex Trust Fund Secretariat and reviewed by the Technical Review Group. Final decisions on those to be supported will be taken by the CTF Steering Committee in early 2019.

Codex future direction

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is also developing its plan of goals and objectives for 2020 through 2025.

Guilherme Costa Jr, Codex Alimentarius chairperson, said the greater the contribution from members, the better the plan will be.

“The next strategic plan will define how we act together in Codex in this changing world of swifter communications and scientific developments with significant implications for food safety and fair practices in food trade,” he said.

The draft plan was discussed at the Codex Executive Committee meeting in June. Codex members and observers can provide comments on it until Nov. 30, 2018.

Codex vice chair Steve Wearne said as food systems are at the center of global change if Codex does not adjust it risks becoming irrelevant.

“When the Codex Executive Committee approved the draft strategic plan to share with member countries, we noted that more work needs to be done, including further consideration of broader strategic issues relating to the development of the food and agriculture sector and how Codex may address challenges that arise.”

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