Following the success of the first round of National Knowledge Sharing Forums on Food Safety in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) in June this year, Mekong Institute delivered a second national food safety forum in Hanoi, Vietnam. Held on November 2, 2017, the Forum attracted the participation of 26 Vietnamese alumni who attended recent regional training courses under the Mekong Institute-Food Safety Project (MI-FSP).
Delivering the welcome remarks, Dr. Leelawath, MI Executive Director, introduced the MI-FSP as an initiative to respond to the most pressing needs on food safety practices in CLMV. Supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme, the Project aims to foster knowledge sharing to enhance food safety management in the region. Dr. Leelawath further added that the Project hopes to introduce more significant changes in the future by strengthening collaborations among ministries responsible for food safety management and between public and private sectors.
Speaking also at the opening ceremony, Dr. Nguyen Quy Duong, Deputy Director General of the Plant Protection Department (PPD) under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), emphasized that food safety is one of the major concerns in Vietnam, especially since the country shares borders with several agro-productive countries. Addressing food safety issues requires efforts from both the public and private sectors. Dr. Nguyen expressed his appreciation for the contributions of the MI-FSP in supporting the enhancement of knowledge and skills of key food safety actors in Vietnam through its training programs and safe food courses.
Five MI-FSP representatives reported their action plans, which were implemented to apply and impart the knowledge and skills gained in the regional courses they attended. Ms. Tran Thi Phuong Hoa of PPD presented the revision plan of a current national regulation on food safety in Vietnam. The revised regulation synthesizes several regulations on food safety management for plant-based products. It is expected to be a core legal document, which subordinate government agencies and particularly food production and food exporting enterprises, will follow and refer to.
Also aiming to provide better guidance for private sector, Mr. Giang Minh Tho of the National Agro-forestry and Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) developed a guideline for exporting companies on European Union requirements pertaining to maximum residue limits in selected fruits and vegetables while Mr. Vy The Vu of Sub-department of Crop Production and Plant Protection in Lam Dong Province trained 40 coffee farmers on agrichemical and pest management.
Mr. Phan Quoc Nam, Factory Manager of Long Uyen Company, conducted an internal audit to improve his company’s current food safety management practices while Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong of Agriculture and Rural TV Channel introduced the vital role of the media in raising public awareness on food safety, of which her TV feature on identifying fake kudzu powder served as an example.
The Forum also engaged the participants in a group discussion session where they identified issues related to food safety in Vietnam, including: high level of pesticide residue in fresh produce; limited knowledge on food safety principles among growers/farmers; and inadequate capacity of processing companies to meet food safety and quality technical standards. These issues, as the participants determined, can be addressed through training on good practices for different actors in the value chain. The identified issues and solutions serve as valuable inputs for MI for mapping out future activities to strengthen food safety in Vietnam in the next five years.