Mekong Institute (MI) and SME Service Center (SSC) of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), co-organized a two-day training course on “Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) in Food Cottage Industries” on January 27 to 28, 2022 at LNCCI, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.
Part of MI’s Promoting Safe Food for Everyone (PROSAFE) project, the training course gathered 19 participants from the food cottage industry and academic institute in Lao PDR to share knowledge and further build their capacity in dealing with many aspects of business operation, particularly good hygiene practices. As an in-country program, the food safety expert from Lao PDR’s Food and Drug Department presented modules to the participants on site at the LNCCI office in Luang Prabang, while the MI facilitator supervised and delivered lessons online.
In her welcome remarks, Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department of MI, recalled the previous MI PROSAFE training on “Food Preservation, Packing and Labeling for Food Safety” in December 2020 where the participants expressed the difficulties encountered by small-scale food operators in Lao PDR in pursuing food business registration and food standards certification.
Small-scale food operators often lack adequate facilities and knowledge to produce safe food and comply with relevant food standards. They need to improve their practices to meet safety and market requirements to stay competitive.
Ms. Medialdia stressed that “the training course will make small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Lao PDR more competitive in the market by improving their food handling practices in food processing premises.” She added that “improved practices will reduce postharvest damage, maintain product quality, and promote hygiene and safety of food products available in the market.”
The training program, which covered a wide range of topics, including food safety and hygiene, food laws, and food standards, aimed to help the participants better understand GHP standards, processes, and requirements for stronger market competitiveness and consumer trust.
In his message, Mr. Phutthasone Phomvisay, SSC Director, emphasized that “it is our mandate to strengthen the SMEs to become more competitive by improving their access to information, finance, and market.” Apart from being grateful for the support given by MI, Mr. Phomvisay also expressed his expectation on how the training will help improve the business practices of the participants to enable them to produce competitive, safe, and environmentally-friendly products.
The training is the first PROSAFE activity in 2022. With funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP), MI’s PROSAFE project aims to strengthen food safety capabilities of agri-food supply chain stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.