2030 seems a way off. It marks the end point of the UN’s development agenda to transform opportunities for people, prosperity and the planet, alongside its collective call to action.
What we all work on today on food safety is going to shape that future. But are we on track?
Are farmers, processors, traders and governments in developing countries ready to take on the food safety challenge? How can we support them to meet Codex standards, protect consumer safety and access regional and global markets? The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) took these questions along to GFSI’s Conference in Tokyo.
It was energizing to be part of the global dialogue on how technologies are transforming the food supply chain. And to see how trade facilitation is changing the food safety landscape, helping to cut costs and achieve efficiency gains across agricultural value chains worldwide.
I met with food safety regulators and industry that are seeking partnerships across Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, to build a stronger food safety culture. Seeing where we have got to on food safety, and how we got here, is a good starting point.
Looking ahead to GFSI's Conference in 2019, STDF will be putting the spotlight on public-private partnerships that are raising the bar on food safety in emerging and less developed markets, tackling challenges head on and securing the future of food safety worldwide.
Leading companies have already built food safety capacity in production and manufacturing with practical, scalable, best practice examples, set out in the latest GFSI case study booklet. These insights can inspire other agribusinesses to improve their own food safety results.
STDF food safety projects take on board the GFSI Global Markets Programme approach. In Thailand and Viet Nam, cooperatives and SMEs put in place food safety management systems and were able to reach local retail and global markets as a result. This is just one of 25 stories that also features in STDF’s new book ‘Driving safe trade solutions worldwide.’
Experiences from these projects on the ground point to key areas where we can continue to support small-scale operators in developing countries to rise to the food safety challenge.
Join public-private partnerships: collaborate on food safety to impact global outcomes
“Field trials under the project identified new and better options to control pests affecting mango production in Africa. With data from the trials going to help set a new Maximum Residue Limit (MRL), African mango farmers will see production losses fall and overseas markets open up”. Paul Osei-Fosu, Ghana Standards Authority
Across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, government authorities partnered with multinational pesticide manufacturers, industry associations, farmers and partners, including ASEAN, AU-IBAR, FAO, IICA, Rutgers University and USDA to carry out pesticide residue studies. Following STDF's project, data was generated for 10 new Codex MRLs and pooling data led to cost savings of over 90%, with new, low-risk pesticides registered in 18 countries. Farmers can now control pests and diseases, meet international food safety standards and protect the environment, with a sustainable model in operation worldwide.
Bring women on board: build an inclusive approach to food safety along the supply chain
“After joining this project I am getting profits every year. I don’t have to wait for long to sell out at the market because my shrimps are bigger and look healthier. Now it makes me proud that people come to me for advice”. Chompa Debnath, shrimp farmer, Bangladesh
When it comes to driving changes in food safety systems for greater consumer confidence, women need to be actively involved. In STDF's project led by FAO with the Department of Fisheries, WorldFish and the Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation, women and men shrimp farmers in Bangladesh have been able to upgrade the safety and quality of shrimp production. They are providing a steady supply to processors, having adopted Better Management Practices and Good Aquaculture Practices. Operating in clusters the shrimp farmers created economies of scale and increased their bargaining power. Plans to scale-up the project to 20,000 farmers will help the clusters establish a direct line of exports.
Bridge the regional gap: drive a common approach to food safety concerns across borders
“The training has been a useful tool in updating knowledge and, as such, it is going to strengthen inspectors’ skills in order to prevent diseases transmitted by food and to guarantee that techniques being carried out meet food safety requirements”. Fanny Maradiaga, National Agricultural University, Honduras
In Central America and the Dominican Republic food inspection agencies set up a regional food inspection school to train food inspectors in each country and modernize food inspection techniques. As part of the STDF project, IICA brought together partnerships of universities, backed by an advisory group made up of national and international food safety institutions. Standardized food inspection training is building confidence in each country’s application of regional, harmonized regulations among trading partners, helping to
facilitate market access for food products. Harmonized food inspection will make it easier to move towards a customs union and is going to positively impact the health of consumers.
We’re living at a time of higher demands from consumers for safe food. Climate change adds to the problem of pests and diseases that put agricultural production at risk. Today, supply chains are increasingly integrated and meeting international food safety standards is more vital than ever to reduce foodborne hazards and guarantee consumer safety.
At STDF we see governments and the private sector in developing countries requesting more support to strengthen food safety systems, meet Codex standards and access markets.
Now, there is increasing scope to build on our collective food safety partnerships and scale-up projects and food safety solutions across supply chains worldwide. Businesses and bottom lines stand to benefit. And it will keep us on track to meet the UN’s 2030 agenda, while importantly securing our food safety future. Let’s continue what we’ve started.
This blog was written by:
Head of STDF Secretariat