International workshop discusses food safety for export hinh anh 1A grapevine garden in Tuy Phong, Ninh Thuan (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – An international workshop on safety criteria for Vietnamese food and agricultural produce took place in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on June 16.

The event drew the participation of foreign and Vietnamese experts and enterprises.

Ino Mayu, a Japanese expert on organic farming, who introduced the Seed to Table initiative into Vietnam, said human resources, particularly farmers, are key to clean food supply chains.

She said, from the experience of more than 20 years working with Vietnamese farmers, she noticed that many of them are not ready for new regulations, practices and partnerships.

They are not willing to disclose statistics on the performance of their farms and severely lack information on domestic and foreign markets, she added.

Ino Mayu said among 400 Mekong Delta households followed her organic farming model, only 20 succeeded.

She advised food traders to help farmers get used to teamwork principles and common safety standards.

Vu Kim Hanh, Chairwoman of the Business Association of High-Quality Vietnamese Goods, said the association has issued a set of criteria on high-quality exports to encourage businesses to follow domestic and international standards and build consumer trust. 

Committing to the set of criteria does not mean an enterprise qualifies for international trade, but helps it prepare the basis to grow, she noted.

Nestor Scherbey, a senior adviser to the Vietnam Trade Facilitation Alliance (VTFA), said to export food into the US, Vietnamese firms need certificates granted by an organisation recognised by the US Government.

The US is shifting its policy to preventing risks of dirty food, thus stricter regulations have been introduced, he stated.

He recommended Vietnamese exporters dig deep into these criteria to save themselves from serious problems with the US customs and agricultural body that could cost them money and access to the market.-VNA