As part of the region’s strengthened advocacy to address the global health crisis post-pandemic, Mekong Institute (MI) launched its one-week regional training program on “Managing Food Safety Along the Supply Chain” at the MI Headquarters in Khon Kaen, Thailand on January 9, 2023. The training aimed to raise participants’ awareness of emerging safe food issues and concerns to improve the region’s agrifood governance and management.
Organized under the New Zealand Aid Programme-funded project on Promoting Safe Food for Everyone (PROSAFE), the five-day course delivered six (6) modules to 30 government officials, agri-food operators, exporters, and academics from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
“Addressing food safety issues is not easy since it involves different stakeholders along the food supply chain. Hence, there is a need for regional cooperation to ensure food safety in each step of the food chain, as well as to foster local development so that everyone can enjoy the privileges of trading and consuming good quality and safe products,” Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director of Mekong Institute, said in his opening remarks. He provided examples of scenarios that elevate the need for safe food such as the progression of cross-border transportation like the China-Laos Railway, which now brings in more products to the country, and the re-opening of Chinese tourism, which is expected to increase the demand for safe food. To support these economic movements, he explained that the training is one of the MI’s initiatives to contribute to achieving global and regional goals where “all people should be able to access safe food.”
Several food safety experts and practitioners from the Kasetsart University, Khon Kaen University, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand served as resource persons for this PROSAFE course.
The participants were able to visit food safety-certified farms and premises to better understand how functional food safety management works.
This is the first safe food course organized in 2023 under the PROSAFE Project. The five-year initiative seeks to build regional and local expertise on food safety through capacity building and post-training outreach activities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam. Ultimately, this project hopes to promote strengthened collaboration among the public, private, and academic sectors leading to demonstrable changes in food safety practices in the region.