Writer: Natasha Angsakulchai, Project Assistant, Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG)
Efforts to tackle obstacles that impede flows of fruits and vegetables among Southeast Asian nations continue despite the fact that Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG) Project is about to be completed by the end of this year.
At the Regional Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN organized recently in Hanoi, three southeast Asian nations, namely Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam shared their practices and experiences with other ASEAN countries that are stepping up efforts to facilitate trade flow of fruits and vegetables.
In order to bridge the gap in terms of knowledge, skills and understandings among plant quarantine officers who are working on the ground, peer-to-peer learning process was highlighted as a useful learning approach for capacity building activities.
“We found a lot of challenges and gaps during the discussion and we know what our neighboring countries or participating countries in the project face are. If Thailand has the knowledge or experience, we share information with them and we learn from them as well,” said Mr. Wichar Thitiprasert, Advisor of National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), Thailand.
Apart from the information-sharing, Vietnam shared ideas based from their experience in making the most use out of the QR code, which allows the officers to download the manuals about morphology of quarantine pests and diseases.
“It is easy to use QR code. It is very simple technology that can be applied in your country,” said Mr. Nguyen Quang Hieu, Head of Plant Protection Department’s Communication and International Cooperation Unit, adding that officers can also submit additional information on pests and diseases for further updates via the QR code.
The manuals have been developed for the officers working at plant quarantine stations to help reduce time to identify pests and diseases found during inspection of agricultural goods being imported and exported at the border.
The outcome of discussion and recommendations from the workshop will be later shared with relevant ASEAN-related meetings that deal with trade facilitation and phytosanitary measures.
More than 30 representatives from ASEAN Member States attended the workshop which was organized on 8 May 2019 back-to-back with ASEAN Meetings on sanitary and phytosanitary measures in Hanoi.
The Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN has been implemented in collaboration with Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam since June 2017 with the objective to develop recommendations for alignment of regulatory framework concerning food safety and phytosanitary measures and procedures between ASEAN and selected countries (i.e. Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam).