Dr. Ampon Kittiampon is the Secretary General of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodities and Food Standards.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative has two roles, which are ‘food safety’ and ‘food security’. Our food safety efforts are focused mainly on agricultural products that are being exported, while food security is focused on domestic production. These issues are interlinked, but our current emphasis is on food safety for exports. The food security issue – which involves both the quality and quantity of agricultural products consumed in Thailand – requires a long-term effort.”
“There is increased demand for Thailand to comply with the food safety regulations of those developed countries that are importing our produce, like the European Union, USA and Japan. Our aim is that by the end of 2004 there will be 325,000 farms in Thailand that are registered and certified for ‘Good Agriculture Practices (GAP)’. These will be farms that produce fruit and vegetables for export. We have drawn up a list of 21 vegetables and fruits that are exported from Thailand, and for each of these crops we are creating GAP standards.”
Mrs. Juntip Tumrongsiskul is the Chief of Pesticides Research Group, Office of Research and Development on Agricultural Production, in the Department of Agriculture (DOA).
“The MOAC has recently created a new logo to show what crops have been grown according to ‘Good Agricultural Practices’. The logo has a large letter Q, with ‘GAP’ written underneath. Before a farmer is certified to use this logo, he must keep a record of his practices to show that he is following the GAP standards. Also, his crop will be tested for pesticide residues.”
“We have two more logos, which are similar. The letter Q with ‘GMP’ written underneath shows that the food has been processed and packed according to Good Manufacturing Practices. Finally, the letter Q with ‘food safety’ written inside, shows that the food satisfies both sets of standards, GAP and GMP. An important part of this system is that every certified producer has a code number, and we can trace the source of any contamination that is found in the food.”
Mr. Sukhum Wong-Ek works at the Registration and Licensing sub-division, Office of Agricultural Regulatory, where he is responsible for the registration of pesticides.
“As part of the preparation for Food Safety Year, we are reviewing the 12 pesticides on the Watch List. These are highly toxic chemicals that are currently registered for use in Thailand, but some pesticides in this list have been banned in some other countries (see question 32). It is possible that some of these pesticides will be banned in Thailand by the beginning of 2004.”
“We are also making changes to the labeling of pesticides, so that farmers will have a clearer understanding of what chemicals are being sold. The present situation can be confusing. Approximately 320 chemicals are available in the market, but they are sold under thousands of brand names. We want to reduce the number of brands, and make sure the common name of the chemical is printed in letters that are just as large as the brand names.”