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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Compliance with Global Standards

Do you heard of Global Standards in Agriculture Produce?
If the answer 'YES" means you are one step ahead and if the answer in 'NO' you can continue to read this article. My article based on a lecture given by experience consultant in Agriculture Global Standards Mr Kit Chan combined with my own working experience in extension services for more than 29 years. My own definition about standards are "rules designed to provide communities a basis to compare and measure desired quality level or a tool to seek alternative approaches of objectives and a criteria to judge a good decision".

Food production in global nowadays concern about few factors include Ecological Concern, Economic Concern, Social Concern and Impact on human health. The ecological concern in food production determined by soil productivity factors (erosion, desertification, depletion of top soil, flood, poor soil condition), Water availability & quality, Pests and disease losses and climate change. Price of good increase tremendously due to less food production and increase in demand. Farmers income not much increase compare those in urban citizen. Food safety and food security are new agenda together with farm workers health and welfare.

Talk about sustainable agriculture , I would say that a farming system that provide the needs of safe nutritious and affordable food for the worlds population. It also should conserve the natural environmental issue and natural resources by seeking to optimise the skills and technologies to achieve long term productivity and profitability of the stakeholders of agriculture enterprise, to ensure the future generations can also experience the satisfactions that we enjoy today.

Our situation of agriculture sector mostly involved smallholders and rural farmers consists of 85% of the stakeholders. Most of them are elderly and not literate. They work with traditional cultivation practices and limited financial resources. The productivity and technologies applied mostly at the low to medium range. Those farmers are confused with the modern agriculture technologies and some even don't understand the proper application the chemicals. Research and Extension services must be intensified to enhance the transfer of technologies for those rural farmers to meet export quality of the produce.

Who is the stakeholders in food security and plants biosecurity regarding rural farmers either it was Voluntary or mandatory? Some says that Food Safety as Voluntary Standards (private) must be initiated and driven by the consumers. It will create the competitiveness among producers and stakeholder along the supply chain. Standards is designed to provide assurance of food safety to consumers. The technical Standard as the Mandatory standards is a standard designed to ensure the food safety confirmation by authority. Non-conformation lead to plant quarantine rejection. Most of the stakeholder must obliged to conform the standards.

The concepts of standards cannot guarantee the food safety but we can ensure the food safety and if we can remove all the hazards, we will minimised the RISKS. The simple solution is the implementation of Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) at farm and farmers level. GAP is a production pathway that identifies critical control points and established compliance standards of varying degrees to eliminate hazards and prevent accidents in order to progressively promote safe and hygienic fresh produce at the farms with minimum negative impacts to the environment.

From my observation about GAP there were lots of benefit for those implement GAP. First the GAP will enhance food safety which will improve the condition with the next stakeholder (Middle man, Collector, Retailers etc). It also reduce the the risks and liabilities in production. GAP also able to reduce the costs of production through Integrated Pests Management (IPM) and less chemical usage. In marketing access the GAP able to improve the system by consumers recognition.

M Anem
Kuala Lumpur

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