(MENAFN- African Press Organization)
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services recently launched its innovative Export Certificate Office System (ECOS). The launch coincided with the Western Cape's inaugural Veterinary Week, which focused on state veterinary services' role in the agriculture sector. One such role is export facilitation.
Dr Vincent Henwood, Western Cape Department Head of the Veterinary Export Certification Office, explained that ECOS is an online electronic system which seeks to ensure compliance in South Africa's food and animal products industry.
Dr Henwood said,“The platform provides permit templates aligned with importing countries' import permits, streamlining the export process, and ensuring compliance with international standards. ECOS enables tracking of products, including animal-derived ones, back to their source farms, thus ensuring transparency throughout the supply chain.”
Speaking at the launch, the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, welcomed ECOS as an innovative platform which focused on improving the Western Cape Government's services to our customers.
Minister Meyer said,“ECOS provides the customer with a 24-hour export facilitation service which reduces the export certificate application process from days to minutes. The Western Cape currently exports 55% of South Africa's primary agricultural products. ECOS will also assist in increasing these exports to at least 60%. Exports contribute to foreign exchange earnings and a 5% increase in exports will lead to approximately 22
000 new jobs in the sector.”
“Due to the location and history of South Africa, we have an extremely diverse set of products, factories, and processes.
We also have a complex food and export legislative system with different authorities (6 religious, state, and authorised signatories). This creates the possibility for synergies between authorities as they are often working on similar products and in the same locations,” continued Minister Meyer.
“In light of our endemic diseases, our rich diversity of wildlife, and our animal health system we need to have a systems approach to disease (human and animal) risk mitigation and international trade in animal products. Due to the many role-players communication and coordination is key. This is challenging in a resource-constrained environment. ECOS can help to coordinate communication and increase cooperation at food processing establishments between authorities,” added Minister Meyer.
Heidi Fourie from La Montanara (Pty) Ltd, a cheese factory in Ashton, has already been using the ECOS.
Heidi Fourie said,” As a small dairy business we do not have time to struggle to complete the significant paperwork that accompanies an export certificate application. The wait often negatively impacts product shelf life and quality. ECOS has changed this. While uploading my company's profile onto the ECOS platform was initially time-consuming, it now takes approximately five minutes to get an export certificate approved.”
Minister Meyer remarked:“We appreciate the feedback from our clients in the Western Cape, which has been invaluable in refining ECOS. Their feedback and support are crucial as we work together to revolutionize compliance, traceability, and export control in South Africa's food and animal products industry.”
Commenting on the future of ECOS, Minister Meyer said that with the support of the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, ECOS should and could be rolled out nationally.
Minister Meyer said,“This will create a comprehensive system that ensures the traceability and compliance of all relevant products on a national scale. It will also greatly enhance the smooth movement of products and reduce the administrative burden and access to veterinary certification to rural producers.”
This year's Veterinary Week ended with a visit to the Department's Veterinary Export Certification Office in Milnerton and the Spar, one of the Veterinary Export Certification Office's biggest clients, Western Cape Distribution Centre in Philippi.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic Of South Africa: Western Cape Provincial Government.
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