December 04, 2017

05/12/2017: Safe and quality food: A shared responsibility – A need for training and capacity building

by Raghavan 'Ragha' Sampathkumar

Continuing from my last column, there are several areas where food chain stakeholders must join hands and invest to ensure food that reaches the consumer is safe and is of good quality at affordable prices

When looking at the Asian region, there are at least 600 million farmers and majority are smallholders. In most countries, these smallholders neither have the knowledge and financial capacity individually to access domestic or export markets nor have any formalised institutional system to support them in terms of providing knowledge on best practices, technological know-how and most importantly, finance.

These farmers are staring blankly at the fast growing food industry in Asia that is struggling to source good quality raw materials and agricultural produce. This situation is common across all commodities and needs concerted efforts by all stakeholders is essential to benefit both ends of the food chain – farmers and consumers.

Some of the most critical aspects that require immediate attention are: safety (e.g. free from contamination); residue-free (e.g. chemicals, heavy metals etc.); and improved shelf life particularly for perishables. At one point of time, secondary standards were absolutely necessary to gain consumers’ confidence and as a result, premium prices.

But with mushrooming of several such standards since the last decade, consumers are increasingly becoming confused. Regulatory agencies worldwide are becoming more cognizant of these kinds of multiple third-party certifications and sooner or later, these certifications and labels may also get scrutinised strictly.

At least a few major food industry players have already started their own means of assuring their customers and consumers of their good quality and compliance to sustainability commitments instead of the third-party certifications. It must be noted that such an effort strongly turns the emphasis on improving their supply chain, which may even surpass the third-party standards. However, this is only a beginning of yet another phenomenon to win consumers’ trust.

Whatever may be the means to reassure the consumer of quality, it is important to build capacity within their respective supply chains and those efforts must reach to the last mile. Farmers must be at the core of these efforts wherein several companies can join hands on what is termed as “Pre-competitive partnerships”. Farmers must be trained on responsible use of inputs. For example, training on responsible use of chemicals for agriculturists and judicious use of antibiotics for the livestock farmers are absolutely critical to ensure sustainable production of quality and safe food.

Read the full article, HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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