Private Sector Development in South Caucasus, Food Safety Module: AFC commended for the successful implementation of a Risk Analysis Training

Last June, AFC was awarded the service contract for the implementation of the Food Safety Module of the GTZ Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme in the three countries covered by the BMZ Caucasus Initiative, which supports the political and economic cooperation activities of the southern Caucasus republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. All three countries have substantial but under-utilized potential for exporting food and beverages to, amongst others, the EU. One reason for limited food exports from the three countries is that an important condition for competitiveness in national, regional and international markets is alignment of food production and government food inspection with internationally recognised standards. This alignment is still in its infancy in the three countries. As a result, improving food safety is a common field for action in all three European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) action plans, with the aim of giving new stimulus to trade in agricultural products by removing non-tariff barriers. GTZ is assisting this process within the framework of its Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme, which has two components, (1) further support to the reform of economic and financial policy and (2) elimination of technical barriers to trade and trade promotion. The food safety module awarded to AFC operates under the latter component. The methodological approach consists, in essence, of the provision of advice and training to help reduce selected non-tariff barriers mentioned in the ENP Action Plans (essentially the improvement of food safety and competition policy). In addition, relevant state and private institutions are motivated to encourage greater cooperation on economic issues and improve support services for export-/import-oriented small and medium size companies. To this end, a regional information and experience exchange between the three countries is initiated and it is aimed to form this into a joint network for regular exchanges on issues of trade promotion and policy. Third, relevant state and private institutions are assisted in the understanding and the introduction of international standards on food safety. The Module is implemented from June 2010 to June 2011. In the frame of this Food Safety Module, a Training Programme was developed and finalized in September and October 2010 with the National Service of Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection (NS) of Georgia. This is jointly implemented by several donors that include EU/TAIEX, IFC, GEPLAC, and AFC on behalf of GTZ. After some initial brief sessions on the current food safety and sanitary legislation of Georgia organized by other donors, AFC now contributed by organizing and holding a three day training seminar on Risk Analysis and Risk Assessment for a number of participants from the National Service of Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection of Georgia from 26 to 29 November 2010. After the successful implementation, the head of the National Service, Mr. David Koberidze, commended that the Russian-speaking trainer was perfectly qualified and was able to provide the opportunity to the training participants to learn and share experience in the risk analysis implementation process as required by international standard. Work in Georgia will continue with the implementation of a workshop for about 70 participants from the public and private sector on ‘Facilitating the improvement of quality management systems with specific relevance on food safety in Georgian Agribusiness Companies producing non-animal products’ in late December. Also still in December, a training seminar on the preparation and design of a National Residue Control Plan will be held in Yerevan, Armenia, for participants from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health. Contacts in Germany: Mr. Johannes Geisen Email: