Agricultural Development and Commercialization

Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, Executive Director of Mekong Institute (MI), and Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department, attended the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) at Thaifex 2017, which runs from May 31-June 4. 

Dr. Leelawath and Ms. Medialdia participated in the policy forum on “Greater Mekong Subregion as One: Regional Approaches to Food Safety and Market Access”, which aims to unify approaches and measures that promote harmonized food safety standards and greater market access for safe, environmentally-friendly, and high-quality GMS agri-food products. Ms. Medialdia was also present during the ADB Special Session at the World of Food Safety Conference, which consists of various presentations on public-private sector partnerships for food safety in the GMS, regional integration of food safety in Asia, and sustainability in the supply chain to ensure food safety, among others. 

During the policy forum and the food safety conference, a paper entitled “Towards Harmonizing Food Safety Systems and Increasing Market Access in the GMS” co-written by MI with Asian Development Bank was likewise presented. The paper examined the food safety situation in the GMS in terms of risks, the current policy and investment environment, and implications for public health and market access. It also described current food safety initiatives in the subregion and identified key gaps and constraints, and provided recommendations and next steps to achieving improved food safety and market access for GMS agri-food products. Download the draft paper here. 

The forum and conference, which were attended by over a hundred regional policy-makers, private sector actors, and global think-tanks, are expected to produce an issue paper on “Harmonizing Food Safety Policies and Expanding Global Markets for the GMS”. The paper will serve as an input to the upcoming 2nd GMS Agriculture Ministers’ meeting in October 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. 

The policy forum and food safety conference are only two of the four major events under the GMS at Thaifex 2017 spearheaded by the Asian Development Bank. The GMS at Thaifex 2017 also includes the GMS Pavilion, which showcased safe and environmental-friendly agriculture products in the region, and the GMS Chef Shows, which featured top chefs from the GMS preparing traditional recipes using premium GMS-grown agri-products.

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