Progress being made with Electronic phytosanitary certification


A project to build online capabilities for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) to issue electronic phytosanitary certificates is now well underway.

This according to Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) CEO, Justin Chadwick, who says the first electronic phytosanitary documentation was expected to be processed by the Netherlands by September this year.

A dedicated space for the e-certification platform has been set up in Hillcrest, near Durban, by Fruit South Africa and Daff has formed a strategic project management committee to provide general project oversight.

Additionally, high-level stakeholder engagement has taken place with the avocado, pome, stone, table grape and exporters boards while e-certification best practice workshops have been set up to raise awareness about the project and elicit inputs and recommendations.

Chadwick noted that similar engagements would be held with the Perishable Products Export Control Board and the CGA board in the third quarter of 2018.

Earlier in June, experts working on the Kenyan e-certification platform as well as a representative leading the Dutch e-certification project met with their South African counterparts to unpack best practices in the implementation and development of an electronic phytosanitary process.

“Exposure to these two existing systems in operation and how they had been put together was extremely valuable and made an immediate impact on the design of the South African solution,” said Chadwick.

Over the next few months, the e-certification team will be focusing on addressing a range of system design questions on how to manage requests for phytosanitary documentation and will conduct a visit to the Netherlands in September to work on the delivery process of export certificates.

The team leading this project has also noted that creation of appropriate reference points were still needed in order to standardise data when making requests for electronic export documentation. These reference points would also provide the basis for automation of data validation which will mostly be managed by the Electronic Standards Authority for the Fruit Industry.

While there has been significant progress in the development of the paperless transition, Chadwick believes that there is more that still needed to be achieved.

“This might sound promising but in reality, it only represents the final step in the official export process and much work remains over the next 18 months to improve the official systems leading up to the point of export,” he added.

He said that the focus needed to be moved towards ways in which the country could take the paper out of the entire supply chain as well as ways in which systems could be developed to automatically validate data.

“Together, these two factors will have the biggest impact on the efficiency of Daff and stakeholders in the supply chain,” said Chadwick.


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