The rising demand for safe quality fruit and vegetables has meant that Quality Assurance (QA) systems based on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) must be in place to satisfy domestic consumption and capturing new markets in the global economy. In addition to food safety, international requirements could also include the environmental sustainability, produce quality, and workers’ health and safety.
Many ASEAN Member States (AMSs) have taken the initiative and developed country-specific GAP based QA systems primarily to satisfy the export market which are suitable to the local conditions and for their farmers to use. ASEAN introduced the ASEAN Good Agricultural Practice standard (ASEAN GAP) and published the “Good Agricultural Practices for the Production of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for the ASEAN Region” in 2006 to assist with the standardisation of fruit and vegetable GAP across the region. A harmonised GAP standard would mean easier trading between AMSs when the economic integration starts in 2015 as well as improve viability for farmers and help sustain a safe food supply. The most important standard that ASEAN GAP covers relates to food safety, wherein the alignment of the national standards has now become mandatory for the facilitation of free flow of goods and the enhancement of ASEAN competitiveness of agricultural products in the global market. Following the development of the standards, their adoption and the creation of the Strategic Plan, various activities have been carried out by the AMSs although at different levels and degrees corresponding to the commitment of the governments, availability of financial resources and knowledge of technical experts.
This policy brief recommends action points for AMS to standardise GAP as a means to support trade facilitation intra and extra ASEAN.