Representatives of government departments and bodies and the food industry attended a training course organised by the Department of Trade Commerce and Industry (DTCI) in Port Moresby with the support of the European Union. The training aims to strengthen national capacities for food safety and controls, in line with the international requirements. The training course took place from February 02 - 05, at the request of DTCI, and covered topics that are essential for risk and quality management of public laboratories and in the food industry. It was delivered by Professor. Saverio Mannino, an Italian expert in food safety and international trade. Professor Mannino states that the establishment of a robust, effective and internationally accepted system of quality compliance organisations in Papua New Guinea requires coordinated actions between various Papua New Guinea governmental agencies, customs, quality compliance laboratories, and the industry. It is also required to develop appropriate legislation on food safety to protect consumers. He emphasised that "An efficient food safety and control system is vital to protect both consumer’s health at home and to support Papua New Guinea exports meet international markets requirements". He also pointed out that Papua New Guinea has been very successful in exporting canned tuna and other commodities. European Union Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Mr Ioannis Giogkarakis-Argyropoulos, stressed the importance of the training workshop to contribute to the improvement of food safety in Papua New Guinea. He said: "With most of the food consumed in Papua New Guinea still being imported; quality compliance bodies and customs have a key role to play to ensure that Papua New Guineans, and all the citizens who live in this country, consume products that fully comply with legal food safety requirements at domestic and international level". "This training also provides an opportunity to improve collaboration between government agencies and a wide range of stakeholders in food industry, to better satisfy consumers' food safety needs in Papua New Guinea". Mr Philip Mercado, Acting Director WTO, Representing the Department of Trade Commerce & Industry, said that Papua New Guinea already has the basic foundations of a quality compliance system through existing organisations like the National Institute for Standardisation and Industrial Technology (NISIT), the National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Agency (NAQIA), Codex focal point in the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI). "The challenge is to improve oversight and coordination of our policies and strengthen capacities for responding more effectively and efficiently to food safety issues ", Mercado said. Mr Mercado welcomed the technical assistance provided by the European Union. He highlighted that “this Government remains committed to building strong competitive domestic industries, including the agri-food industry to reduce reliance on imports and promote food security. Mr Mercado stated that “as the majority of Papua New Guinea’s population is engaged in subsistence agricultural livelihood, developing a strong commercialised agriculture sector in Papua New Guinea would generate further growth, increased revenue, employment and increase household incomes for millions of Papua New Guineans. He noted that one of the key challenges is to address food quality and safety weakness in the production process and along the supply chain so that our domestic industries are able to compete against foreign imports”. The training is part of the second phase of the European Union Trade Related Assistance programme (TRA2) - to the tune of 22 million PGK (6.1710 million Euro) - which aims to assist Papua New Guinea to increase access to European Union and other international markets and to improve domestic food safety standards.
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