Thailand sets out standard inspection procedures to faster agricultural goods trade within ASEAN

Written by Naylinya Chappanapong, Senior Communication Officer, GIZ Thailand

The Department of Agriculture (DOA) of Thailand has been developing the so-called Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for inspectors who are in charge of phytosanitary measures to ensure consistency at the operational level is in line with international standards on trade with other Southeast Asian countries.

The SOPs provide step-by-step instructions on how to perform daily tasks and maintain the consistency of the operations which could affect the movement of the goods.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture (DOA) as well as local and international experts in phytosanitary measures and procedures discussed the development of   the draft SOPs and the Quality Management System (QMS) recently in Bangkok with recommendations provided by an international expert from the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

During the three-day workshop, the participants practiced drafting the SOPs that can be understood easily and applied in real practice.

The Facilitating Trade for Agriculture Goods in ASEAN (FTAG) project organized the National Training Workshop on Developing Phytosanitary Standard Operating Procedures at Kasetrathikarn Institute between May 15 and 17 in which more than 20 Thai technical officers from the Department of Agriculture and National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) had attended.

“We have to increase food safety in all ten Southeast Asian countries. Phytosanitary inspectors should strictly inspect all food products entering Thailand and see if the products follow the international standard for pest control, otherwise, it would harm the food security and we will spend a lot of money solving the problems,” said Surmsuk Salakpetch, Director-General of the Department of Agriculture (DOA).

While Mr. Wichar Thitiprasert, Advisor of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) of Thailand has urged the plant quarantine officers to comply with the SOPs once the fundamental guidelines are set.

“Meeting the international standard can improve the quality of products. We will reduce investment cost and time-consuming processing. Most importantly, we will gain more trust from our trading partners and consumers locally and internationally,” Mr. Wichar noted.

He also added that the SOPs will support the implementation of an electronic phytosanitary certificates (ePhytos) of Thailand in the future.

At present, the task force under the DOA is drafting the SOPs and it is expected to be ready by November this year.

The National Training Workshop on Developing Phytosanitary Standard Operating Procedures at Kasetrathikarn Institute in Bangkok between May 15 and 17, 2019 (Photo credit: Naylinya Chappanapong)
The National Training Workshop on Developing Phytosanitary Standard Operating Procedures at Kasetrathikarn Institute in Bangkok between May 15 and 17, 2019 (Photo credit: Naylinya Chappanapong)