Agroecology project supports capacity development for food safety in Laos and Vietnam

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and partners recently trained 20 Vietnamese and 55 Laotian stakeholders on food safety and food safety risk assessment. This training is among the efforts of the Agroecology and Safe Food System Transitions (ASSET) project in transforming the food systems in the Southeast Asia region.

Held 16 September 2022 in Dien Bien Province (northwest Vietnam) and 19–20 September 2022 in Vientiane, Laos, the training was co-hosted by ILRI and national partners in each country including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) of Dien Bien Province, Vietnam, and the National University of Laos (NUoL) and National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) in Laos.

Food safety is an increasingly important development challenge in developing countries. Food-borne diseases are responsible for an enormous health burden that negatively affects livelihoods and the nutritional and economic status of millions of people in these countries. There is an urgent need for technical and institutional solutions to better manage food safety risks in dynamic and informal markets at both national and regional levels.

The training participants, who included researchers, government officials and other stakeholders, were exposed to quantitative risk assessment methods including basics of hazards and risk assessment and risk communication and different frameworks for risk assessment. ILRI scientists Fred UngerSinh Dang and Johanna Lindahl also demonstrated the use of analysis tools and databases to the participants. Participants later worked together to explore ways to apply the gained knowledge of risk assessment to improve the safety of food in traditional markets while maintaining the compliance of vendors.

Training on food safety risk assessment in Vientiane, Laos on 19-20 September 2022 (photo credit: ILRI).

Training on food safety risk assessment in Dien Bien Province, northwest of Vietnam on 16 September 2022 (photo credit: ILRI).

‘This training opens a door for further engagement between the ASSET project and national stakeholders towards safer food for people in the two countries,’ said Fred Unger, the ILRI regional representative for East and Southeast Asia.

The ASSET scientists also visited DARD and NUoL to explore collaboration opportunities between ASSET and national partners in Laos and Vietnam. Laos and Vietnam are among four focus countries of the ASSET project which aims to transform food and agricultural systems in Southeast Asia to make them sustainable, safer and inclusive by harnessing the potential of agroecology.

The five-year ASSET project (2020–2025) is funded by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Union (EU), and the Fond Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM). It is implemented in Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.