Ho Chi Minh City, August 31, 2023 – Mekong Institute (MI) gathered food safety champions from Vietnam in a national workshop that explored the next steps in promoting and sustaining a safe food culture in the country. A total of 45 PROSAFE graduates, representing government agencies, agrifood business associations, and the academic sector in Vietnam, actively participated in the workshop. Also gracing the event as the keynote speaker was Dr. Nguyen Nhu Tiep, the Director-General of Vietnam’s National Authority for Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Processing and Market Development.
PROSAFE or Promoting Safe Food for Everyone is MI’s multi-year food safety project that sought to strengthen the food safety management systems in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) through a coordinated approach to capacity development. With the support of the New Zealand Aid Programme, the project offered food safety courses where CLMV stakeholders learned new knowledge and skills for keeping food safe at every stage of the supply chain. Now that the project is drawing to a close, MI organized a knowledge exchange to encourage continuous networking and peer learning on food safety practices, and chart forward-looking actions to keep the safe food advocacy going.
“The primary purpose of this event is not simply to echo our hard work and accomplishments. We likewise celebrate the milestones, acknowledge the challenges we overcame, and, most importantly, appreciate the lessons learned,” said Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department. “But equally imperative is our shared mission to shine a light on the enduring need for a robust and reliable food safety system, and to identify the ways in which we continue to forge ahead,” she added.
Since 2018, PROSAFE has delivered 50 regional training programs, improving the food safety knowledge and skills of CLMV stakeholders, including a total of 385 Vietnamese participants and benefitting 13,877 other food stakeholders in Vietnam through 173 localized training programs implemented by PROSAFE alumni in the country. Agri-food small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and food service providers improved their food safety management systems. Regulations and guidelines on food safety were developed and improved both at the enterprise and national levels. PROSAFE has likewise contributed to wider public awareness of food safety through food safety stories.
Dr. Tiep expressed profound gratitude for PROSAFE’s work in Vietnam. He underscored the critical role of regional cooperation among developing countries such as CLMV and technical assistance provided by more developed countries like New Zealand for the successful attainment of global goals related to transforming world food systems. “Vietnam is willing to cooperate with different partner countries and organizations in the world for technical support, sharing experiences for the transformation of the food system and maintaining the world food supply chains,” he said.
Ms. Medialdia recognized how food safety awareness has grown in Vietnam, thanks in large measure to government efforts to communicate and enforce food safety regulations. She said that the country has made commendable advancements in harmonizing local standards with international norms.
The knowledge exchange recapped and celebrated remarkable strides achieved by the project in the last five years, particularly those that contributed to the improvement of safe food practices in Vietnam. “These best practices demonstrate not just our individual efforts, but the power of collaboration and responsibility in securing the food systems in the country,” said Ms. Medialdia.
To cap off the event, sector representatives from the alumni network shared words of thanks to PROSAFE and highlighted individual and collective benefits gained from the food safety project.