To ensure safety and quality of local fresh produce are maintained at internationally accepted levels, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) yesterday said it is imperative to have in place a regulatory regime to ensure the objective is met. With the global food sector continuing to evolve at a faster pace, it was stressed that the responsibility of managing such changes is not only of the government sector, but also the private sector.
“We have a collective responsibility to manage a number of areas, from the production of food in our country to the final consumption. This can be achieved through the institutionalisation of food safety measures,” said CCC CEO Dhara Wijayatilake highlighting the scenario around improving the safety and quality of Sri Lankan fruits and vegetables, at a workshop conducted by the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and International Trade Centre (ITC). Wijayatilake added it was clear that as Sri Lanka continues to progress with the production of food and taking it to the market, the need to adapt standards that would ensure quality and safety is a serious challenge.
It was emphasised that the need for effective public education and outreach, as well as using real scientific evidence to take decision is of the essence. “If decisions are not based on scientific evidence, the resulting actions may be totally irrelevant to ensuring food safety. And if action is not taken in good scientific evidence, the results would be disastrous,” she warned. In that context she stressed it was imperative to institutionalise within the government entities a permanent framework to carry out work in this regard, as the nation cannot afford a fragmented approach.
The STDF and ITC kicked off an initiative three years ago to improve the standards of locally produced fruits and vegetables. The project was objected towards building and sustaining the competence of the public and private sector stakeholders to comply with quality and food safety international requirements. Furthermore, it also aimed at improving the international, regional and national market opportunities of selected value chains of fresh produce within the ultimate goal of income generation. (SAA)