Rashid Al Shariqi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority said the meetings of Scientific Committee played an important role in the achievements ADFCA has marked so far in various fields, especially in its efforts to ensure food safety as well as agricultural sustainability in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. He made his remarks while he was inaugurating the 13th session of Scientific Committee, held at Grand Capital Hilton hotel in Abu Dhabi on 14-15 December.
He said the support given by HH Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chairman of ADFCA and other board members has been the driving force behind all the successes recorded by ADFCA so far.
The two-day meeting of the committee was attended by CEO’s of different sectors, directors and heads of divisions and sections as well as members of the Scientific Committee which includes experts from well known international food control & agricultural research bodies such as Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations FAO, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas and Director of Science Group at New Zealand Food safety Authority.
Guest speaker’s list included prominent figures from recognized organizations including Center for Palm and Date Research, King Faisal University, KSA, OIE Camel Diseases International Task Team and Central Veterinary Research Laboratory Dubai.
In his inaugural speech, Al Shariqi presented a brief on the milestones achieved by ADFCA in recent times in which he described about the Smart Irrigation Project implemented by agricultural research plants under ADFCA which won WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) 2014 Award, along with five other projects from across the world.
Mr. Al Shariqi enumerated the winning of Middle East Municipalities Excellence Award, organizing of Agricultural Innovation Forum and publication of Photographic Atlas of Food Portions as other mile stones in ADFCA’s recent credit.
Further, he said, as part of the efforts for the journey towards excellence, ADFCA has strived to strengthen governance and bring flexibility to entire spectrum of the legislations it issued, with the prime focus on minimizing the compliance burden on the affected groups by ensuring that the regulations are in line with users’ needs and can be smoothly implemented and practiced. With number figures as 46 of such legislations that covered various aspects of business, ADFCA has organized workshop on the Regulatory Impact Assessment concept (RIA) which deliberated on the methodology and assured the significance of embedding RIA in developmental process of laws and rules.
He pointed that the risk-based inspection system ADFCA designed, is fully optimized to meet the specifications for ISO 17020 certification requirements. Furthermore, while referring the food safety field, he talked about the steady progress in the implementation of ‘Salamat Zadna’ initiative in small scale food businesses in the emirate.
He said the project won wide applause and appreciation from several local, national and international agencies concerned with the domain, including the UN Food and Agricultural Organization FAO.
In the agricultural sector, the bouquet of achievements he presented included creation of the Farm Data Base which contains information about 24,000 farms, e-control system, Anti-Red Palm Weevil program, the inclusion of 110 farms in Abu Dhabi to the list of GLOBAL GAP after successfully fulfilling all criteria and specifications of Good Agricultural Practices and the increased use of treated waste water for irrigation to maximize water resources uses efficiency.
Implementation of tagging system in the meat produced from abattoirs in the emirate, emergency plan developed for containing animal diseases like Rift Valley Fever and MERS-corona virus, program to develop the livestock and project to establish new veterinary hospitals and laboratories were presented as the achievements in the animal wealth sector.
According to the Director General, ADFCA has developed an online system to closely follow up projects round-the-year as well as a project to collect geospatial information with regards to food establishments, farms and ranches as part of its efforts to adequately follow up execution of various projects by Strategy and Performance Sector. Establishment of central e-archive and three sub e-archives and implementation of a comprehensive e-register for the documents by the Service Sector also comes in the recent achievements.
Mr. Al Shariqi said ADFCA’s participation in social events has been effective in recent times with Zayed Heritage Festival, SIAL Middle East and Emirates International Palm and Date Exhibition top the list.
Important topics and pressing issues that ADFCA regards as priorities acquired high concern on the table of discussion throughout the two-day activities of the meeting. Agricultural sustainability, protection of natural recourses, measures to check trade related fraudulence and food crimes, impact of climate change, monitored plant reproduction, food security, assessment of food chemical contamination risks levels, upgrading ADFCA’s recall and traceability systems, technology, agricultural and animal protection issues such as the involvement of camels in the spread of Corona virus were the main topic on which deliberations were done. It’s worth mentioning that separate sessions were devoted for food safety, agriculture and animal wealth issues.
The meeting was concluded in the 2nd day after finalizing a set of recommendations correspond to the discussed topics, preceded by extensive critical discussions to ensure better chances for optimum application.