Mekong Institute continues to support safer agri-food trade facilitation and expanding market access for Lao food products through key activities under the PROSAFE project funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP).
A forum titled Food Safety for Market Access Towards Vision 2030, was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR on August 3rd 2022 and in collaboration with the Food and Drug Department (FDD), Ministry of Health of Lao PDR. The forum is designed to further enhance food business operators (FBOs) understanding of national strategies in agri-food trade to achieve the appropriate level of protection (ALOP) for consumers in terms of food safety, strengthen knowledge of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, compliance requirements, infrastructure and facilities to support food safety measures; and to provide a platform for public and private sector stakeholders in the food chain to share and exchange information on agri-food trade facilitation.
Lao PDR’s specialty agriculture product alone has a significant export potential of up to US$634 million, according to the International Trade Centre (ITC) analysis. It is of great importance that stakeholders in the Lao PDR’s food chain take advantage of national strategies and measures and regional economic integration initiatives such as the Framework for CLMV Development, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Initiatives for ASEAN Integration (IAI) to expand market access for its agri-food products.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Bounxou Keohavong, Director General of the Food and Drug Department, called on increased multi-stakeholder and multi-agency cooperation in Lao PDR to undertake the complex yet important task of ensuring food safety from farm to consumers. He underscored the importance of the agriculture and food sector as a sector with comparative advantage of the Framework for CLMV Development and for the establishment of an Advanced Global Business Hub. However, technical capacities, infrastructure and materials supply challenges faced by food businesses in Lao PDR need to be effectively addressed in order to realize the full agri-food export potential, he added.
These kinds of events will continue to be held by MI in the foreseeable future, said Ms Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department of Mekong Institute. They provide an important avenue to promote public and private sector partnerships to advance market access for Lao PDR’s and Greater Mekong Sub-region agri-food products.
Notable officials at the forum are the Director General of the Lao Women Union Dr. Ninpaseuth Xayaphonesy and Deputy Director General of the Department of Agriculture Mr. Somhack Vongvixay who co-chaired the forum.
MI’s PROSAFE project aims to strengthen the food safety capabilities of agri-food supply chain stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Specifically, its goal is to promote food safety through a coordinated approach to knowledge and skills development. Apart from addressing country-identified training needs, the project also builds strong partnerships and collaboration between the public and the private sector.