Agricultural Development and Commercialization

Mekong Institute’s (MI) efforts to promote food safety continue with the recently-concluded Symposium on Global Food Safety: Production, Health and Market. Co-sponsored with the University of Georgia (UGA) and Khon Kaen University (KKU), 142 participants from the academe, government agencies and private sector from more than ten countries from Africa, East Asia, South East Asia, South Asia and the USA attended the symposium at MI on October 5-6, 2017. 

In his opening remarks, MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath pointed out that the subject of food safety is of particular significance for the GMS given its largely agricultural economy. Discussions on the subject can lead to better production practices and consequently, open opportunities for the agricultural sector and improve their competitiveness in the regional and global markets. The symposium therefore serves as a valuable platform for knowledge and information sharing among experts as well as for exploring multi-sectoral partnerships. 

The two-day symposium centered on discussions on food safety concerns, both at the regional and global scale and for particular agricultural products such as meat, poultry, seafood and dairy and dairy products. The presentation on the roles of the university, government, research institutions and the industry also brought into focus the need for human resource capacity development, curriculum enhancement, and learning experiences such as internships and advanced specialized trainings, to improve technical skills and facilitate the sharing of knowledge grounded on research and field experiences. 

At the end of the session, Dr. Amrit Bart, Assistant Dean and Director for Office of Global Programs, UGA remarked that despite the limitations in expertise on the subject of food safety in countries like Laos and Myanmar, small steps like attendance in the symposium can contribute to the achievement of bigger goals. He encouraged participants to explore partnerships with institutions like KKU and UGA to develop proposals for submission to donors. 

The symposium is part of MI’s ongoing initiatives on food safety under the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP).

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