DA, SBMA ink deal for first border inspection facility

Catherine Talavera – The Philippine Star

November 28, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the establishment of the country’s first border inspection facility for agricultural commodities, which will strengthen efforts to ensure food safety.

On Friday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar and SBMA chairman and administrator Wilma Eisma inked the agreement to construct an integrated cold examination facility in agriculture (CEFA) with complementary testing laboratories at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ).

“As a first border facility, the CEFA located at a 2,000-square meter property of the SBMA, will be used to thoroughly inspect imported containerized agri-fishery commodities,”the DA said.

The CEFA will also house examination areas and laboratories intended for the execution of the quarantine and inspection protocols of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

It will enable 100 percent in-depth inspection of containerized animal, fish, and plant commodities identified through the risk assessment categorization and complemented by the X-ray screening of the Bureau of Customs which will be subject to sampling and laboratory testing.

Dar said the CEFA would strengthen the country’s food safety regulatory system to protect consumer health as it aims to prevent the entry of transboundary agri-fishery pests and diseases.

Dar earlier said the CEFA, which was previously dubbed as the Agricultural Commodity Examination Area (ACEA), would initiate a new way of conducting first-border inspections, as well as host more thorough examinations, as all arriving imports can be opened in one cold warehouse and will have ample time to examine them.

For her part, Eisma welcomed the partnership with DA and strongly supports the establishment of the CEFA, because it will also enhance the industrial and commercial activity and the free flow of goods within the SBFZ.

Apart from the CEFA at the SBFZ, Dar said the DA is also targeting to establish another CEFA by next year.