BIOTROP, together with SEAMEO Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and Regional Center for Food and Nutrition (RECFON) co-organized a seminar workshop on “Strengthening the Regional Food Safety Systems” on 2-6 June 2014 at the Centre’s headquarter in Bogor. In attendance were twenty-five representatives of ministries of agriculture and of health, agriculture universities, and the private sector from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand involved in formulating food safety policies, standards, and regulatory procedures.
The seminar workshop was aimed at enabling the participants to : (1) demonstrate an enhanced appreciation of the underlying principles in the liberalization of and specific arrangements/agreements in food trade; (2) identify capacity- and institution-building programs essential to managing and controlling compliance with voluntary and mandatory food safety standards and regulations; and (3) identify regional, national, and sectoral bodies and agencies engaged in food safety programs and formulate mechanisms for effective networking with and among these organizations.
At the opening program, BIOTROP Director Dr. Bambang Purwantara, in his welcome remarks, emphasized that increased regulatory cooperation and convergence within ASEAN is essential, along with strong governance structures to enforce food standards consistently, fairly, and predictably. For her message, Dr. Drupadi Dillon, SEAMEO RECFON Director, added that regional centers and members of the ASEAN community are challenged with the need for a regional food safety regulatory framework in the face of divergent capacity among member states in promoting and controlling compliance with food safety standards and regulations. SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., in his opening remarks read by Dr. Maria Celeste H. Cadiz, Program Head of SEARCA’s Knowledge Management Department, acknowledged the event as a cooperative undertaking among the three SEAMEO centers towards contributing to the achievement of One ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
Led by Dr. Maria Concepcion C. Lizada, Professor Emeritus at the University of the Philippines and Senior Fellow at SEARCA, resource persons include a total of 21 food safety regulators and experts from Thailand’s and Indonesia’s ministries of agriculture and health, universities in Vietnam and Indonesia, and private sector leaders in the region and in Indonesia. Knowledge partners include the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD); Food Industry Asia (FIA) and ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA); and the Indonesian Food and Beverage Alliance (GAPPMI).
BIOTROP Deputy Director for Program Dr. Jess C. Fernandez, in his closing remarks, encouraged the participants to use the new knowledge and information they gained from the seminar workshop and continue to share best practices in their respective countries towards addressing the issues on food safety systems in the region.
(Based on SEARCA’s article “Regional Food Safety Seminar Kicks Off in Bogor, Indonesia”, 8 June 2014)