SAARC meeting on food safety

Agriculture in SAARC region supports more than 50 percent of the population for their livelihood and employment while the sector contributes about 18.2 percent to the GDP in all SAARC countries, experts observed at the opening session of a consultation meeting on Monday.  

They said the SAARC region has achieved good progress in agricultural development, while a major issue is to produce safe foods and distribute properly to improve food and nutrition security. 

The inaugural session of the regional experts consultation meeting on “Food Safety in South Asia Region: Current Status, Policy Perspective and Way Forward” held at BRC auditorium, Farmgate in the city was jointly organized by SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC) and BSAFE Foundation.

Food Minister, Dr Abdur Razzak attended the opening session as chief guest while Agriculture Secretary, M Nasirujjaman, Chairman, BFSA, Syeda Sarwar Jahan, Dr Md Kabir Ikramul Haque, Executive Chairman, BARC were present on the occasion with President of BSAFE Foundation, Dr Mohammad Zainul Abedin in the chair. During his speech, Food Minister said the country is exporting agriculture products after fulfilling the local demand and the products are gaining reputation abroad.

“Every year the export of agriculture products from Bangladesh is increasing. I have discussed with many countries regarding further enhancement of export to those countries, as well as to some new destinations", the minister added.

He said Prime Minister herself has given due importance to increasing agriculture production and at the same time she has emphasized quality production of food grain

Speakers also pointed out that from the food safety net point of view, South Asia is vulnerable by contaminating foods with unsafe and inedible foods, not maintaining standardized quality measures, lack of food standardized policy, lack of awareness on hygiene and food safety, and weak hygiene and sanitation practices in the region.  The main objective of the consultation is to evaluate the progress made by member states in implementing the policies related to food safety and security.

SAARC Agriculture Center (SAC) is as one of the regional centers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), stationed in Dhaka, the body is working for strengthening agricultural research & development in the region, since 1988. 

SAC has been implementing its program activities focusing on: technology transformation, exploring issues and challenges, and policy dynamics in the region through consultation programs, meetings, workshops, training and SAARC Agriculture PhD Scholarship Program.

The consultation meeting is being attended by National Focal Point Experts (government representatives) from 8 countries, professionals, experts and professors. The National Focal Point Experts made a presentation on the main theme “Food Safety in South Asia Region: Current Status, Policy Perspective and Way Forward” on their respective countries. Presentations were also made on sharing good practices on food safety management system in different countries, food safety and quality of life, and food safety issues/ challenges and way forward to improve food safety in South Asia.