The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) under Ministry of Agriculture and Forests received an amount of USD 152,000 in April from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to strengthen food safety and standards in the country.
The project over a span of next two years, will primarily focus on the establishment of a reliable food control system including food safety policy, standards, risk based inspection and awareness of various stakeholders through development of training manuals and promotional materials.
The inspection system will address major food safety concerns like microbiological and chemical hazards.
A Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer of FAO for the Asia Pacific region, Dr. Shashi Sareen said that after the establishment of World Trade Organization (WTO), the demand by both governments and consumers for food quality and safety has increased.
With increased complexity in food production chain, she stressed the need to have adequate controls along the food chain to guarantee food safety to the consumers.
She said, “Food control needs to be driven by the government with active involvement of other stakeholders namely producers, processors, transporters, service suppliers, consumers etc”.
The Food Safety and Nutrition Officer of FAO for the Asia Pacific region also shared information on similar projects being carried out around the Asia Pacific region on food safety.
According the BAFRA officials, there is a need to establish a good food- inspection system. The project besides this issue pertaining to food safety will also work toward capacity-building to improve food safety along the food chain.
BAFRA officials said that food-contaminant monitoring will also be boosted with such projects in place.
The two-year project which will function till March 2014 will directly benefits general consumers through having access to safe and standard foods available. The project benefits will also extend to producers, industries, food service establishments and government institutions involved in food safety.
The project is also expected to indirectly benefit individual farmers or farmers’ group, commercial producers and its allied business partners and vulnerable groups especially the women engaged in food industries.
An FAO inception-workshop titled “Strengthening Food Safety and Standards in Bhutan” was also organized last week.