Agricultural Development and Commercialization

Mekong Institute (MI), with support from the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP), launches the nine-day Regional Training Program on Mainstreaming Food Safety Risk Analysis today, July 10, at the Mekong Institute Residential Training Center. The program is the fifth in a series of food safety training programs organized under the MI-Food Safety Project (MI-FSP). 

This training program aims to enhance the knowledge and technical capacity of 25 participants from relevant government agencies, academic and research institutions, and consumer associations in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) in assessing, managing, and communicating food safety risks. It also targets to introduce basic concepts in preliminary risk management activities, identification and selection of risk management options, implementation and control measures, and monitoring and review. 

Delivering the Welcome Remarks, MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath first acknowledged MI’s collaboration with ASUREQuality Ltd. in New Zealand in designing and implementing the training courses under the MI-FSP. He mentioned that all FSP training programs organized in the past—from Agrichemical Management to Agri-food Inspection and Audit—were facilitated by a New Zealand expert, but this time, a regional expert from the Philippines would likewise be involved to give the program a more “regional flavor.” 

Dr. Watcharas also highlighted that all countries require food safety standards and policies. And while these already exist in the region, the challenge is always on effective implementation. This, according to him, is an aspect that the MI-FSP plans to address, so as to assist the region in exporting to bigger and higher-end markets. However, this could only be done through the participants’ help and cooperation, which, in the case of this training course, take the form of carrying out action plans. 

Implemented by the Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department of MI, the FSP is an 18-month initiative providing training and support services for CLMV government agricultural and food safety officials, as well as various private sector actors. It aims to develop their food safety knowledge and expertise while assisting them in preparing and implementing appropriate food safety regulations and standards for select value chains and market outlets both in-country and outside. 

Food safety risk analysis is an internationally-recognized approach for further reducing food-borne illness and strengthening food safety management systems. A need for systematic and hands-on training on a risk-based approach for food safety management was identified during the capacity development needs assessment (CDNA) conducted by the FSP project teams in each CLMV country.

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