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Food safety has gained increasing importance over the years due to its impact on the health of consumers and the growth in the domestic and international trade in food products. Production of safe food is essential for protecting consumers from the hazards of foodborne illnesses. Further, food safety is an integral part of food security and also contributes towards increasing competitiveness in export markets.

Food safety hazards may occur at different stages of the food chain starting right from primary production and extending to secondary and tertiary processing, storage and distribution, and packaging. It is therefore very important to address food safety starting from the farm level. Implementing good practices during on-farm production and post-production processes is of immense importance for assuring a safe food supply. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), as defined by FAO, are a “collection of principles to apply for on-farm production and postproduction processes, resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agriculture products, while taking into account economic, social and environmental sustainability”.
Many importing countries as well as domestic buyers, especially organized retailers, are now requiring producers to implement GAP as a prerequisite for procurement to ensure the quality and safety of their produce and because of which there is now a greater focus on implementing such systems.

There has not been much focus on adopting GAP in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, and most of the food safety standards are aimed towards either the end products or the processing sector. A similar situation exists in the other countries. Based on a request from some SAARC countries, a regional project on “Development of Standards and Scheme for Good AgriculturalPractices (GAP) Implementation and Certification in Countries of SAARC” was developed. Under this project a regional scheme on GAP for fruits and vegetables for SAARC countries has been developed in three parts: Part I consists of a common standard on GAP for the horticulture sector along with criteria for certification; Part II deals with the establishment of a national implementation structure for GAP in a country; and Part III deals with the certification and accreditation aspects of GAP.

The project has supported some pilot countries to internalize and adopt the GAP scheme - both the standard and the supporting implementation infrastructure through internal multi-stakeholder consultations. This ensures the development of national schemes based on international processes, guarantees reliable certification and strengthens the quality of infrastructure for GAP in the pilot countries. The common GAP standard and implementation system in these countries is also expected to promote trade in the SAARC region.

The countries selected for the pilot projects were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. These pilot projects comprised identification of the scheme owner and the certification body in each of the pilot countries, adoption/adaptation of the scheme documents, strengthening certification and accreditation infrastructure for GAP, structured training sessions and awareness programmes for the scheme owner and certification and accreditation personnel, as well as training of trainers (TOT) programmes for those individuals who would after intensive training train and counsel farmers/ farmer groups selected by these countries.

This publication comprises two volumes: Volume 1 documents the entire scheme and Volume 2 covers a training package on this scheme. It is hoped that the publications will be useful not only to SAARC countries but also to other countries.


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