Inspectors from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam identify pests and symptoms of disease hidden in imported bananas at the quarantine checkpoint in Binh Phuoc province, Vietnam. (Photo credit: GIZ Thailand)
Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam plan to continue improving their capacity to make the trade flow of fruits and vegetables faster and simpler by building on the results achieved in the project, Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG), which ended in December.
“I hope this [project] will become a model for the ASEAN countries, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this project being applied in other projects, 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.
At the Regional Workshop held to conclude the FTAG Project on 26–27 November 2019 in Siem Reap, government officials from Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam as well as representatives from Lao PDR and GIZ shared FTAG achievements and their plans to improve capacity to carry out phytosanitary measures which are crucial in the import and export process of agricultural goods to ensure that commodities are free from plant pests and diseases that could hinder trade flow.
According to Mr. Wichar, the development of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for officers working at plant quarantine stations in phytosanitary inspection and issuing phytosanitary certificates for exported goods was one of the main project activities carried out in the three countries.
SOP provides step-by-step basic guidelines for officers to perform daily tasks and maintain the consistency of the operations throughout each country, making the process more efficient and in line with international standards.
Encouraging other Southeast Asian countries to develop SOP for plant quarantine officers was highlighted at the workshop as an area where countries could work together in the future.
Thailand and Vietnam plan to roll out their SOPs in 2020, while Cambodia intends to continue the development of SOPs beyond the project.
About the Facilitating Trade for Agricultural Goods in ASEAN (FTAG) Project
The FTAG project was implemented in close collaboration with Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam with the objective of developing recommendations for the alignment of regulatory framework concerning food safety and phytosanitary measures and procedures between ASEAN and selected countries. The fruits and vegetables selected by the countries for the project were longan, mango, dragon fruit, lychee, banana and chilli.
The project was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and came under the Trade for Development Fund. FTAG ran from June 2017 until December 2019.