FAO assists Kyrgyzstan in managing food safety in fruit and vegetable sector
The 2021 International Year of Fruits and Vegetables started for Kyrgyzstan with the launch of a new FAO project on improving food safety management in the Kyrgyz fruit and vegetable sector, implemented in close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Industry and Melioration, and Association of Fruit and Vegetable Enterprises (AFVE), whose members are among the direct beneficiaries of the project.
Funded by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), the project aims to support the implementation of globally accepted, modern risk based food safety management systems in fruit and vegetable production and processing. Adoption of these systems enables the local producers ensure the safety of their products, and increase access to domestic and international markets, mainly the members of Eurasian Economic Union; hence, improving the livelihoods of more than 400 000 smallholder farmers.
“Food and agriculture plays a vital role in sustainable development, where huge economic potential is concentrated,” said Adnan Quereshi, FAO Representative in Kyrgyzstan. “The project will have a positive impact on development of fruit and vegetable sector and will provide an impetus to increase sales of Kyrgyz fruit and vegetables, which will ultimately lead to an increase in the profitability of small farms and processors in connection with the improvement of the fruit and vegetable industry.”
In December 2020, FAO organized a virtual inception workshop with the participation of relevant stakeholder representatives from the public authorities, producer associations, academia and food businesses. During the meeting, Dilbara Alimzhanova, Director of AFVE, explained that the producers are facing difficulties in accessing the domestic and export markets due to non-compliance with the requested food safety requirements. The reasons include amongst others, the limited financial and technical capacities, lack of technical expertise and guidance, and outdated inspection system.
Representatives of the Ministries who are responsible for the official food controls in the country, namely, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Chemicalisation and Plant Protection; Ministry of Health, Department of State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance; Ministry of Economy, Centre for Standardisation and Metrology, shared their roles, relevancy of the project with the current needs, and the observed impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector. The FAO project team informed the participants of the project activities that aim to address the challenges described and called for collaboration throughout the project.
“Within the framework of this project, a standardized training system will be created to build capacities on internationally accepted risk based food safety management systems (including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and Good Hygiene Practices (GHP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). In addition, technical knowledge of the relevant competent authority staff will be enhanced on conducting risk-based inspection and analysis and revising audit procedures.” said Mary Kenny, FAO Food Safety and Consumer Protection Officer.
In addition the project will help to increase share of domestic and international markets for Kyrgyz fruit and vegetable products and improve food security in Kyrgyzstan by contributing to a healthy diet through promoting and improving the quality of fruits and vegetables and lastly, promote reduction of, among others, non-communicable diseases, overweight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.