The Zambian Government is working towards diversification of the country’s economy from traditional export commodities such as copper to non-traditional ones.
Honey and fish have been identified as some of the commodities because of their potential of earning the much-needed revenue for the country. On the local, regional and international markets, Zambian honey and fish and fish products have a growing demand because of their organic nature.
Zambia exports honey to regional markets such as Botswana and South Africa, and to European countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom. Demand for Zambia’s fish and fish products is also growing both for domestic and export markets.
To ensure that food standards are complied with and residues are monitored correctly, Zambia has with respect to honey, developed tools and protocols for this purpose. Aquaculture is a growing industry in Zambia and the earlier the industry adopts the correct standards of the products, the better for capturing export markets.
It is imperative that the honey produced in Zambia meets the food safety standards in accordance with the Codex Alimentarius. The honey has to be safe from any form of contamination such as microbiological and chemical hazards. In this regard, the Zambian Government, with its collaborating partners, is working to establish various Residue Monitoring Plans for a number of high potential non-traditional exports meant to give confidence to both the domestic and export markets.
So far the Fish Residue and Honey Residue Monitoring Plans have been developed under the EU-funded SADC TRF Project to prepare Zambia export products that meet the international market requirements and demand.
Economic diversification policy, in particular one focused on increasing non-traditional exports such as natural honey and fish and fish products, required the development and adoption of tools and protocols to monitor residues in these products in order to access regional and international markets.
Chemicals that are present in foodstuffs can be intentionally added (i.e. food additives, or the illegal addition for adulterant purposes), are present as residues from defined uses (e.g. pesticides and veterinary drugs) or are contaminants (formed during production, processing, and storage or stemming from the environment). Governments operating a food safety system do so to ensure that food available to the population is safe and compliant with established regional and international standards.
The need to produce unique organic products that are free of contaminants and other residues is a mammoth challenge as it involves designing the tools and protocols to assess the products throughout the production process and ensure that the products adhere to the required regional and international standards.
Key to the TRF Project’s success in assisting Zambia put up the necessary tools and protocols to effectively monitor residues in natural honey and fish and fishery products, were the following:
(i) The commitment and willingness of the University of Zambia (UNZA), the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) and other tertiary institutions in providing competent experts to the project.
(ii) The involvement of local experts in developing these monitoring tools and protocols guarantees their sustainability and the continued monitoring by these institutions in future.
(iii) These institutions developed training manuals for aquaculture and UNZA has integrated these into its training programme, thus buttressing sustainability of the sector in Zambia.
The requirement for residue monitoring tools and protocols generated a need for research which resulted in an analytical method that was applied to both honey and fish residue monitoring. Zambia has developed the Residue Monitoring Plans for honey and fish.
For honey the key requirement is that the honey has to be truly organic and therefore the monitoring has to be robust and intense to achieve this goal. As a result, there is an increase in demand for the Zambian Organic Honey within SADC and in the EU countries. Additionally, on the honey residue monitoring side, a number of outputs and impacts have been scored. The honey residue monitoring technical team that has been established through this TRF project has been able to develop and re-calibrate honey sampling instruments in various districts were naturally occurring honey production exists.
What has changed is that, in the past honey residue monitoring was not well structured and lacked a well, coordinated system. The honey RMP has been developed to manage this deficiency.
From the formulated Fish Residue Monitoring Plan-Tools (FRMP-Tools), it has come out clearly that the tools will be able to cover primary production (inclusive of both Capture and Aquaculture – with the latter being more intensive covering brooding stock, fry ponds, nursery ponds basically consisting of hatcheries, to grow out ponds or cage culture) to various secondary production and processing levels. Further, the tools are able to handle feed mills, and fish related processing plants and establishments across the value chain. Primarily, these tools have been developed to guarantee safe fish and fishery products from harvest to the table by monitoring, assessing and determining the possibility or likelihood of residues entering the fish value chain. Further, these tools have been designed to be applied also at Point of Entries (PoEs). Thus the tools are able to be used by those intended for or engaged in the handling, production, storage, distribution, export, import and sale of fish and fishery products locally, regionally or to and from international markets.
Visitation and collection of feed samples from one of the manufacturers.
Regional Integration Significance
The significance of this project in the region is that Zambia is now producing products that comply with the international food standards and has already established key markets for these products and more so for organic honey which is already being exported to the EU and UK markets. Fresh water fish is gaining in demand in the region and the project is going to enhance Zambia’s export competitiveness for fish and fish products in the near future as production levels increase. Fish was declared a major food product by the African Union and this boards well for Zambia to develop its aquaculture in order to meet future increases in demand for fish.
Collection of sediments from (a) non-boat landing areas and (b) boat landing areas by the research team
A traditional bee hive being showcased
Zambia has developed the Fish Residue Monitoring Plan (FRMP) and the Honey Residue Monitoring and Control Plan (HRMCP) that are critical in the implementation of an efficient food safety system. These tools have been developed under the SADC TRF Project through funding from the EU. These tools will be instrumental in ensuring that Zambian honey and fish commodities meet the regional and international standards. This is important for assuring public health and safety as well promoting trade. However, for effective implementation of these RMPs, there is a need to strengthen laboratory analytical capacities.
Name: TRF Zambia Project
Organization: Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry
E-mail: Simon.Ng’firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com