When the GFSI Web Series went to Myanmar, we met an incredible woman – with a fascinating story to share. In this episode, Dr. Toe Nandar Tin speaks to us about how she got into the fish industry as the first fisherwoman in her region, why she decided to start her own plant and how GFSI has impacted her and enabled growth for her operations.
When I was writing my Master's thesis in Kyaukphyu which is situated in the western part of my country, I learnt more about fishing as well as about the hard lives of fishermen. In 1977, I decided to form a Fishing Co-operative, which is known as the “Anawa Devi Fishing Co-operative.
The fishing business in our country is taken as man’s job. When I started as a fisherwoman, everybody took it for granted that I wouldn’t make a success with this fishing business. Practically I showed them that I could be a successful fisherwoman by being the very first woman on board my own fishing vessels in Myanmar. Until today, I am the chairman of this Co-operative.
Myanmar is waking up and there is so much potential here. We have 2,832 kilometers of coastline, natural resources are very good and export is very important. And for that reason we wanted to become certified to a GFSI-recognised scheme.
With years of isolation, Myanmar education system has stagnated, and the curriculum for food technology and technical trades in general is obsolete. So, it’s difficult for the industry to find efficient technicians and supervisors.
I was approached by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the UMFCCI. They recommended a capacity building programme based on the GFSI Global Markets Programme. The UNIDO project did an orientation workshop in August 2015, explaining the GFSI framework.
We already had set up monitoring for mass and basic quality control; in addition, we have been training supervisors to monitor the temperatures and cleaning/sanitation operations, and to track the product batches from raw reception to final products. And record-keeping has been extended for all aspects required by the food safety management system.
My daily challenge is to ensure that our fish fillets leaving the factory are free of the main hazards. Fish products are classified in the ‘high risk’ group due to susceptibility to microbiological contamination.
One of the challenges GFSI helped to overcome was the system approach in food safety. With the building up of the system under UNIDO local experts’ guidance, my team was able to understand the importance of the system opposed to a series of routine controls.
The GFSI Global Markets Programme is not yet fully implemented in Myanmar, so having developed a food safety management system with the GFSI approach to improve our efficiencies, we are also in a position to fulfill the growing demand of large retail groups operating in my country.
In the end, I see GFSI value for consumers in the assurance and for us, food businesses, in delivering regularly safe products to the consumers.
Stay tuned for more episodes of the GFSI Web Series on our YouTube channel and www.mygfsi.com The next episode of Dr. Toe’s story will be shown LIVE at the Global Food Safety Conference in Houston, Texas. #GFSIwebseries
Thanks to our sponsors 3M Food Safety for making the GFSI Web Series possible!
3M Food Safety’s innovative solutions help food manufacturers optimize the quality of their products, mitigate risk and protect consumers. Together with GFSI, we’re helping advance the science of food safety in countries all over the world. Learn more at 3M.com/foodsafety