Following the successful completion of the Regional Consultation Workshop on Promoting Food Safety in CLMV held last Oct. 11-12, Mekong Institute (MI), still through the support of the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP), finally kicks off its first ever regional training program under the Mekong Institute Food Safety Project (MI-FSP) today. The training course, which focuses on “Food Safety Management Tools in Food Manufacturing”, is being held at the Mekong Institute Residential Training Center from Nov. 7 to 11.
Joined by a total of 30 participants, the course is designed to benefit a diverse group of regional food safety stakeholders, including representatives from departments and ministries in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) who are responsible for developing food safety regulations for agri-food processing firms and monitoring food safety at processing level, as well as agri-food processing companies in CLMV interested in adopting Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Six staff members from the Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department of MI are likewise attending the training as part of the internal capacity-building component of the MI-FSP.
The five-day in-house training aims to enhance the knowledge of participants on global food safety standards, as well as build their understanding of the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) based on Codex Alimentarius. The course likewise intends to strengthen the capacity of government officials in effectively implementing and monitoring food safety control programs in the food processing sector, as well as to improve their ability in providing assistance to food processors in conforming to strict food safety requirements. The agro-food processors, on the other hand, are expected to identify the challenges they face in implementing food safety control mechanisms in their respective processing facilities, and share those experiences in aid of food safety legislation in their country.
Providing Welcome Remarks during the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, MI Executive Director, first and foremost thanked the participants for attending the course, as well as NZAP for its tireless support to MI. After providing a brief background of MI’s work, Dr. Leelawath proceeded to explain the MI-FSP and the project’s design. He mentioned that before coming up with the current training topics, the MI-FSP team had to conduct a food safety country analysis as well as a training needs assessment (TNA) to truly understand the food safety needs of each country, stressing that the project is not conceptualized “out of the blue.” Finally, he emphasized the importance of having both public and private sector representatives for the course, requested the participants to let MI know how they applied the knowledge they gained from the training upon return to their home countries, and wished the participants a fun and fruitful stay at MI.
The training program is only the first within a series of training programs to be organized under the MI-FSP, an 18-month initiative which targets to train government officials in CLMV on the essentials of food safety and regulatory standards throughout various value chains, with particular emphasis on fresh produce.
The MI-FSP envisions to provide training and support services for CLMV government agricultural and food safety officials, as well as private actors, to develop their safe food knowledge and expertise, and assist them in preparing and implementing appropriate food safety regulations and standards for select value chains and market outlets both in-country and outside.