After almost two years of intervention from the SADC-EU TRF which started in 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in the Kingdom of Lesotho, through the Department of Agricultural Research, has fulfilled some of the most critical requirements for international trade.
Lesotho acceded to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership in May 1995. Owing to this, the country agreed to be bound by the rules and regulations related to multilateral trade.
On the other side, it became a contracting party to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in October 2013, which is the body that oversees all the plant health issues, particularly that enables smooth and safe trade.
Acceding to these two international organisations was not enough, as the country had to observe requirements and standards for better trade facilitation, thus exporting and importing commodities that meet the international required Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards.
The SPS team (Phytosanitary and Quarantine Unit) had to create awareness about Sanitary and Phytosanitary requirements throughout the country targeting farmers and other relevant stakeholders. Ten awareness workshops were held in the 10 administrative districts of the country and in total 197 people participated in these workshops of whom 104 were women.
Engagement with other border agencies to ensure that they understand issues on SPS was done through combined training with customs officers and five officials were involved, of whom three were women. The unit also distributed promotional materials to retailers and vendors to educate them about the importance of SPS.
Awareness creation was also enhanced through visiting points of entry and exit in the districts (Mafeteng, Leribe, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing). At all these points, sensitisation of clientele (retailers, clearing agents, exporters/importers and preferred traders) was undertaken as a means of raising awareness.