Export quality management training in Myanmar
This week, our cool coaches Alfons and Warner travelled to Myanmar for two export quality management trainings. The capacity building activity in Yangon and Mandalay is part of a joint project by the United Nations International Trade Centre (ITC) and the German metrology institute (PTB).
Participants were representatives from Ministries and business support organisations in the fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses, nuts, oil seeds, seafood and garments sectors.
Myanmese farmers grow some beautiful products that would do well on the world food market. However, Myanmar has long been an economically isolated country. As a result, the country lacks a well-developed quality infrastructure and there is a general lack of knowledge on prevailing international market requirements. As a consequence, the products do not meet international standards.
“At the moment, Myanmar only has two standards: for drinking water and for rice”
The well-visited workshops were packed with eager learners looking for guidance and support on how to bridge the gap with international market requirements. In this respect, Warner and Alfons not only showed the participants what are the essential requirements to meet, but also what sources are available to find such information and how to use these sources effectively and efficiently.
Practical tips – one example
Myanmar has a great potential for avocado and mango farming. Our trainers showed the Fruits and Vegetables Association examples of how containers of avocadoes and mangoes were rejected from access to the European Union because they did not comply with the European food safety standards. Following such practical examples, the association recognized the necessity of spreading knowledge on maximum residue levels and supporting their members in implementing Good Agricultural Practices
The workshop was attended by several departments of Ministries and business support organisations. They understood how important it is to cooperate in achieving growth in exports, based on an improved national quality infrastructure.
Conclusion of the workshop
Myanmar must bridge several gaps that currently limit the countries’ export opportunities. In the short term, there is a need to develop standards for promising food export products, based on globally recognized standards like the standards of Codex Alimentarius. But more than that, the country has to work on a sound quality infrastructure, including accredited testing and inspection facilities and certification bodies. It is an essential component in the national export strategy to strengthen the Myanmese competitiveness in the global playing field. As part of the action planning exercise at the end of the training, encouraging initiatives were presented. These included: public private partnership activities, food safety training, social responsibility training in the garments sector, and translation and dissemination of critical information and international standards.
It is clear that a lot of work lies ahead for the participants of our workshops. But we are ready to offer follow up support and coaching. And with their enthusiasm, learning attitude and promising products they will definitely come a long way.
For a bright future of Myanmese exports.
Marieke de Haan