Food Industry Asia (FIA) has pledged to support the six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) in building capacity and strengthening food safety systems across the region.
|FIA has pledged to act as a high-level communications platform between major stakeholders in food safety|
Accordingly, representing the private sector, FIA will connect governments, policymakers, and industry leaders through a high-level dialogue to drive the food safety agenda.
This commitment was made at a conference themed “GMS: Towards Inclusive, Safe, and Sustainable Agriculture Value Chains,” held on September 12 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which culminated in the 2nd GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (GMS AMM-2).
“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,” said Matt Kovac, FIA executive director.
In support of these efforts, representatives from FIA member companies Cargill, Nestlé, GS1, and Waters Corporation participated in AMM-2 and related discussions.
GMS AMM-2 brought together the ministers of agriculture from member countries, who each endorsed the GMS Strategy and the Siem Reap Action Plan for Promoting Safe and Environment-Friendly Agro-Based Value Chains in the GMS for 2018-2022.
Speaking at GMS AMM-2, Kim Keat Ng, chairman of FIA’s Science and Technical Committee, highlighted five areas for collaboration that are expected to yield immediate positive results, including traceability, establishment of policies for laboratory capacity-building, communications on food safety risks, promotion of the harmonisation of food safety standards, and enhancing national legislation and regulation on food safety.
“FIA recognises that a regional approach to food policy, driven by private and public interest, will enhance the protection of consumers and suppliers in the GMS, support the scaling up of productivity and product quality, and thus facilitate product marketing,” Ng added.
Along with the two events above, FIA, in collaboration with the GMS Working Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), engaged in a series of discussions with senior officials of the GMS Ministries of Agriculture, including a formal public-private dialogue and round table talk.
The food industry body also facilitated a policy forum on food safety and the sustainable management of land and water for the production of a reliable supply of safe and high-quality agri-food products, which highlighted the role of agri-food value chains in the development of the sub-region, particularly its potential for agritourism.
Through 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 simultaneously promoting a climate for sustainable growth.
In the upcoming months, the working group will outline how these suggestions can be pushed forward, as well as other initiatives that will ensure the production of safe and environment-friendly food products, while forging closer links between the GMS’s ministries of agriculture and FIA.
The GMS countries comprise of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (specifically Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
By Ha Vy