The town of Hissar, Food market. Saleswoman throws rice in a bag for sale.

Ensuring that food is safe is a complex task involving many different players. A three-year FAO project to upgrade the food safety capacities of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan held its final workshops in late February.

Funded by the Government of Turkey, “Capacity development in food safety risk management of food processing enterprises and national authorities in the Kyrgyz Republic and Republic of Tajikistan” has been implemented by FAO over the period 2013-2017.

Aimed at strengthening national food control regulatory capacity through wider application of Codex standards, enhancing food safety management along the food chain, and increasing knowledge on food safety hazards and good hygiene practices in food enterprises, the project brought visible results in both countries.

Training sessions boosted capacities for coping with food safety hazards, implementing food safety systems based on HACCP principles among responsible government officials, food inspectors, food processors and a team of local experts.

“With its high potential for expanding food production and sustainable growth of food exports, Kyrgyzstan needs to further improve food industry sanitary conditions and strengthen its capacity to develop and implement food safety management systems,” said Jumabek Asylbekov, head of food security policies and agromarketing in Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Land Reclamation. “Therefore we very much appreciate the results of the FAO project.”

Practical technical assistance provided to the Bishkek-based company “Kulikovski Tort” led to its obtaining a HACCP-based standard certificate and increasing its competitiveness in regional and international markets, while offering a demonstration area for emerging and developing private food businesses, including small ones.

“Promoting food safety, developing and sharing information materials, providing guidance, tools and capacity building to support food safety risk management are all part of FAO’s normative and field work,” said Eleonora Dupouy, FAO food safety and consumer protection officer.

“As a result of the project,” she continued, “Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan should be ready to apply good manufacturing and hygiene practices and risk-based preventive systems for food safety hazard management and control. This will help reduce the incidence of foodborne diseases.”

In addition to government personnel, food processors and food inspectors, representatives of international developing partners, including a large group from the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock participated in the final project workshop in Kyrgyzstan. The Turkish officials informed about the upcoming launch of the second phase of the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme, which is expected to open further opportunities for a joint work on improving food safety in the region.