Food safety experts from ASEAN member states convened a regional workshop to exchange and provide updates on initiatives related to food safety systems in the region.
Experts from the public and private sectors from ASEAN and Japan shared experiences and lessons learned on the safe use of agrochemicals to ensure safety for users, consumers, and the environment.
The event contributed to ASEAN member states’ joint efforts to strengthen coordinated actions to promote safe use of agrochemicals and sustainable alternatives.
The intensification of agricultural production to feed the growing population is unfortunately linked to an increased use of various agrochemicals. The overuse of pesticides has raised concerns about their adverse effects on human health and the environment.
The ASEAN Member States recognise these challenges and the need to strengthen coordinated actions in the region to promote the safe use of agrochemicals, as well as sustainable alternatives. To support these efforts and provide updates on regional initiatives, the Regional Workshop on Food Safety Systems in ASEAN was convened on 17 July 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand and attended by 46 participants including food safety experts and policymakers in the region.
The event was organised by the ASEAN Secretariat together with the Department of Agriculture, Thailand as the host, in collaboration with the ASEAN-MAFF Japan Project for Human Resources Development in Food-related Areas through Partnership with Universities in the ASEAN Region (HRD Project) – Phase 3, and the ASEAN-German Cooperation project on Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN (AgriTrade).
Joint efforts in promoting food safety in the region
ASEAN is actively promoting safe use of agrochemicals in the agriculture sector, such as through implementing regulatory frameworks, promoting alternative pest control methods, and enhancing capacity building.
At the event, Dr Pham Quang Minh, Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, conveyed his appreciation to the stakeholders gathered to address food safety, which is a cross-cutting issue requiring joint efforts from all stakeholders including the private sector and international organisations.
Mr Hiroaki Kinoshita, Project Coordinator of the HRD Project, which is funded by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said that food safety is a topic of great interest for Japan and highlighted the importance of cooperation among stakeholders across the region to promote sustainable agriculture practices.
Echoing the importance of supporting coordinated efforts in the region, Ms Pouchamarn Wongsanga, Regional Component Leader, ASEAN AgriTrade Project, shared the study supported by the project to take stock of the use of agrichemicals in the region, which came up with a set of recommendations to overcome challenges in promoting compliance with ASEAN-harmonised Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) standards.
As the event’s host, Thailand’s Department of Agriculture, represented by Deputy Director-General, Dr Pongthai Thaiyotin, opened the event. He emphasised the importance of the agriculture sector in the region and globally as an essential source of food supply, contributing to its population’s economy, livelihood and food security.
“The Regional Workshop on Food Safety Systems in ASEAN aims to provide updates on global and regional development initiatives related to food safety systems, with various speakers providing valuable insights into the topic. This event will contribute to further strengthening our regional collaboration and the role of ASEAN in promoting the safe use of agrochemicals” he said.
Experts and policymakers across the region shared practices and lessons learned from ASEAN and Japan to improve food safety, including perspectives from the industry and consumers.