EBRD and FAO want food safety
30 January, 2014
EBRD and FAO want food safety
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) discussed a public-private policy for upgrading food safety and quality standards in Georgia.
That was the focus of the forum “Food Safety in Georgia: Challenges and Opportunities” held in Tbilisi on 23 January by EBRD and FAO with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia.
The conference brought together private companies, government and other stakeholders to discuss forthcoming legislation on improvements in food safety,
as well as its potential impact on local agribusiness companies and farmers.
Top managers from over 60 local agricultural companies, leaders of farmers’ associations, and key policy-makers in government and the private sector examined changes currently underway in the country’s food safety and quality legislation, and the need to upgrade Georgia’s food safety and monitoring systems. The most significant changes include the Code of Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection which will take effect in spring 2014.
Major changes that will result from Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) between Georgia and European Union were also considered. DCFTA is already signed but not yet ratified. That is scheduled for the end of this summer when Georgia will endorse agreement on associated membership with the EU.
Food safety was one of the four major EU preconditions before it began negotiations on DCFTA. Georgia responded to the necessary requirements, but food safety is still far below EU standards - and efforts should be made by government to streamline Georgian legislation along European standards. FAO and EBRD are building on years of experience with food safety and quality standards in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. They can assist Georgia to achieve its goal to harmonize local food safety standards with those of the EU, and to improve domestic food security and international market access.
Bruno Balvanera, EBRD’s Director for Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, emphasized that the EBRD is a key investor in the Georgian agribusiness sector. “In line with the Bank’s efforts to further develop the private sector, it is important to identify the areas of investment required in the agribusiness field, in order to modernize it further and bring it closer to best international policies and standards,” he said in a speech at the conference. “This will be a positive step in aligning Georgia with EU standards, in line with the DCFTA.”
One anticipated result of the forum is the creation of a public-private policy dialogue between agribusiness and the government to pave the way for modernized value chains and an improved investment climate, and to ensure that new measures will be implemented in an efficient and inclusive manner.
“FAO and EBRD have good experience in organizing public-private policy dialogue in many countries in the region, and have found that it is a very powerful tool for improving investment environment for agribusiness,” Eugenia Serova, FAO’s Director of the Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division, stated. “We had such dialogue on grain and dairy sectors in Russia and Ukraine, on Serbian meat and dairy sectors, the Kyrgyz agribusiness investment climate and some others. Food safety is one of the critical issues for agribusiness development and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss forthcoming legislation to improve food safety together with private companies, government and other stakeholders.”

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