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FIA to help in strengthening food policies across GMS

11:02 SGT October 17, 2017
FIA
Strong collaboration between the private and public sectors in the GMS will improve food safety standards.

Food Industry Asia (FIA) said it will support the six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) in building capacity and strengthening food safety systems across the region.

The pledge was made at last month’s conference on the GMS: Towards Inclusive, Safe and Sustainable Agriculture Value Chains, held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which culminated with the second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (GMS AMM-2).

The GMS comprises Cambodia; China, specifically Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Laos; Myanmar; Thailand; and Vietnam.

The AMM-2 brought together the agriculture ministers from GMS countries, who each endorsed the GMS Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan for Promoting Safe and Environment-Friendly Agro-Based Value Chains in the GMS for 2018- 2022.

FIA recognizes that a regional approach to food policy, driven by private and public interests, will enhance protection of consumers and suppliers in the GMS, support scaling up of productivity and quality of products, and thus facilitate product marketing

Representing the private sector, part of FIA’s pledge is to bring together governments, policymakers and industry leaders through high-level dialogues to drive the food safety agenda.

In his statement delivered at the AMM-2, Kim Keat Ng, chairman of FIA’s Science and Technical Committee, detailed the commitment made by FIA, and highlighted areas for collaboration that are expected to immediately yield positive results. These include:

  • Traceability through the piloting of GS1 barcode-based systems for facilitation and monitoring of cross-border trade, as well as the establishment of government-to-government, business-to-government, and government-to-business data-sharing;
  • Establishment of mechanisms for laboratory capacity-building across leadership, management and technical levels;
  • Food safety risk communication through the collaborative development of the ICT platforms such as AINS 2.0 as a GMS food safety communication tool and knowledge repository unit;
  • Promotion of the harmonization of food safety standards that will enhance trade through the facilitation of public-private dialogues; and
  • Enhancing national legislation and regulations on food safety through public-private forums.

Matt Kovac, FIA’s executive director, said: “Our ambition is to have strong collaboration between the private and public sectors in the GMS through sustainable multi-stakeholder partnerships designed to improve food safety standards through a range of capacity-building efforts.”

In support of these efforts, representatives from FIA member companies Cargill, Nestlé, GS1 and Waters Corporation participated in the AMM-2 and related discussions.

In addition, along with the GMS Working Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), FIA engaged in a series of discussions with senior officials of the GMS ministries of agriculture, including a formal public-private dialogue and roundtable.

Representing the private sector, part of FIA’s pledge is to bring together governments, policymakers and industry leaders through high-level dialogues to drive the food safety agenda.

FIA also facilitated a policy forum on food safety and sustainable management of land and water for a reliable supply of safe and quality agri-food products. This forum further highlighted the role of agri-food value chains in the development of the sub-region, particularly its potential for agri-tourism.

Ng said FIA “recognizes that a regional approach to food policy, driven by private and public interests, will enhance protection of consumers and suppliers in the GMS, support scaling up of productivity and quality of products, and thus facilitate product marketing”.

During the event, FIA found that its suggestions were greeted with positive reaction from the GMS WGA. In the coming months, FIA shared that the working group will make progress on pushing forward those suggestions as well as other initiatives that will ensure the production of safe and environment-friendly food while forging closer links between FIA and the ministries of agriculture in the GMS.

“Using the power of partnership, FIA and the GMS WGA have the opportunity to improve food safety in the region through multi-stakeholder efforts, with the adoption of a risk-based approach built on successful models that address the whole supply chain while promoting a climate for sustainable growth,” Ng concluded.