Writer: Natasha Angsakulchai, Project Assistant, Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG)
Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam plan to continue improving its capacity to make trade flow of fruits and vegetables faster and simpler by building on the results achieved from the project, Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG), which ended last December.
At the Regional Workshop to conclude FTAG Project on 26 November 2019 in Siem Reap, government officials from Cambodia, Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam shared its work plans to improve capacity to carry out phytosanitary measures which is a crucial part in the import and export process of agricultural goods to ensure that the commodities are free from plant pest and diseases.
“I think SOP [Standard Operating Procedures] is one of the factors which will be carried on after the project is finished,” said Mr. Wichar Thitiprasert, Advisor of Thailand’s National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) and a member of the project’s steering committee.
The development of SOP for plant quarantine officers on inspection and issuance of phytosanitary certificate were one of the main activities carried out in the three countries under FTAG.
SOP provides step-by-step fundamental guideline for officers to perform daily tasks and maintain the consistency of the operations to meet international standard and improve quality of products.
However, there is still room for improvement for the sampling size for inspection to make the process simpler, faster and more practical for officers on the ground. “Because the inspection process can take time, so this may be good way to shorten the procedure,” said Dr. Walaikorn Rattanadechakul, expert on Plant Import Export System and Agriculture Factor, the Department of Agriculture, who has led the team in developing SOP for export procedure in Thailand.
Encouraging other Southeast Asian countries to develop SOP was also highlighted at the workshop.
Thailand and Vietnam plan to roll out their SOPs in 2020, while Cambodia has plan to continue the development of SOPs beyond the project.