The ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry has endorsed the ASEAN Agricultural Best Practices, which consist of Good Agriculture Practices for Fruits and Vegetables (endorsed in 2006), Good Animal Husbandry Practices for Broilers and Layers (endorsed in 2014) and the Good Aquaculture Practices for Food Fish (endorsed in 2014) as guidelines to improve quality assurance, enhance quality of products, and minimise hazards in food safety, environmental impacts, and worker health, safety and welfare. In addition, a number of ASEAN standards in agriculture products such as those for organic agriculture and horticultural produce have been developed. As a priority area for integration, the harmonization of standards and trade certifications are expected to enhance trade among ASEAN Member States (AMS) as well as promote long-term competitiveness in the global market of agricultural products from ASEAN. Adoption of these standards by AMS is not mandatory, but they serve as benchmarks for AMS in developing or improving their own agricultural practice standards.
Beyond the benefits in food safety and farmer’s health and welfare, ASEAN sees the need for establishing an efficient mechanism for implementing the standards both at the national and regional level. As agricultural standards and guidelines are important in the procurement and risk reduction processes, the presence of a regionally recognised and acceptable mechanism to support their operationalisation will increase the chances of AMS to hook up with the regional as well global agrifoods value chain.
This mechanism will define how the ASEAN standards are applied and operationalized, at the national and the regional level, by various relevant institutions at both level, through new or existing regional institutions and mechanism such as the ASEAN Sectoral Working Groups and Experts Working Groups (ASWGC/EWG GAP, ASWGL, ASWGFi).
This project conducted a study to identify the essential elements for such mechanism to work in the ASEAN region and beyond, identify existing institutions and arrangements (including any accreditation and certification system, mutual recognition agreements and self-certification scheme) that can be utilised as part of the mechanism, their feasibility (including costs and benefits) and provide various options for its operationalisation as well as recommendations for an effective, inclusive and sustainable regional mechanism for the mutual recognition of ASEAN agricultural best practices.
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