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Agricultural Certifications in Pakistan




  • Internationally, the food preferences are dynamically shifting to quality, hygiene and traceable products especially natives of 1st and 2nd world countries demands all these. These issues are in the perspective of fresh and processed foods, which provide a basis for Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) and IFS (International Featured Standards) certifications.

     

     

     

    Internationally, the food preferences are dynamically shifting to quality, hygiene and traceable products especially natives of 1st and 2nd world countries demands all these. These issues are in the perspective of fresh and processed foods, which provide a basis for Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) and IFS (International FeaturedStandards) certifications.

    Agricultural_Certifications_in_Pakistan_1The concept of Global G.A.P. has evolved in recent past throughout the world in the context of a quality food business especially of fresh commodities and those rapidly sensitized the global food scenario. It is a private body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of agricultural products around the globe. The Global G.A.P. standard is primarily designed to offer the secure products assuring the consumers to know how food is produced on the farm? What inputs are being used? What is the infrastructure available and to what extent hygienically the commodities are handled?

    Global G.A.P. body exists in Germany and its working group consists of members all over the world providing the focal point to the safe and healthy food. Prior to Global GAP, Eurep GAP was introduced on January 01, 1995 to build the structure for quality agriculture commodities. Eurep GAP was transformed into globally acknowledged Global G.A.P. Agribusiness Support Fund is its focal member in Pakistan which is providing technical and managerial services to the farmers to improve the productivity, competitiveness and creditworthiness to access the loan facility for their enterprises. Pakistan had sufficient number of Global G.A.P. auditors (18) and Certification Bodies (04) to audit and certify the farm bases.

    The productivity of key crops remained stagnant since 90’s in Pakistan. There was dire need of a breakthrough in yield of perishable commodities. Now, total volume of production of fruits & vegetables of Punjab is approximately 7821 million tons having export value of Rs. 162 billions.

    IFS certified firms/processors are much competitive in the European markets and are fetching manifold returns of their products. IFS is being represented in 90 countries having support of 190 dealers/traders and 12000 suppliers are certified around the world. Nine out of ten of the largest European food retailers are IFS based. These nine largest food retailers have net sales totaling EUR 364.72 billion (USD 565 billion) in which Wal-Mart, holds number one position among largest IFS retailers of the world. In the current supply chain improvement initiative of Punjab government, IFS food and IFS logistics would be used, whose understanding is necessary for supply chain managers.

    In this regard, concept is elaborated here. IFS Food is a standard for the auditing of companies that process food or companies that pack loose food products. IFS Food is only applied where the product is “processed or handled”, or if there is a danger of product contamination during the primary packaging. IFS Food is applied to processing and working and/or handling of loose products and/or activities undertaken during the primary packaging. While IFS Logistics is applicable to both food and non-food products and covers all logistics activities such as loading, unloading and transportation. The standard can be applied to all sorts of transportation; heavy goods vehicles, trains, ships, aero planes and every other type of transport (temperature controlled or at room temperature).

    Agricultural_Certifications_in_Pakistan_2The Punjab government appreciates the efforts of Star Farm Company (A china based Global G.A.P./IFS consultancy firm, which is a sister organization of Metro Cash & Carry). The objective of this firm is capacity building of suppliers/processors with respect to Global G.A.P. and IFS (International Featured Standards) through processes of auditing, training, re-examination, retraining, on hand training, and especially the world’s crucially demanded trace-ability system.

    The certification cum trace-ability system has proved excellent results in China since recent past owning to SFC’s management and professional wisdom. It is the honor of the Punjab Government who took SFC on board and insisted SFC to launch its 2nd office in Pakistan (Lahore) prior to Vietnam, which had great potential for trade of fresh commodities. The Punjab Government is also incentivizing the farm bases, suppliers (processors), logistics and traders through cost sharing basis and also subsidizing the certification fees of Global G.A.P. & IFS certifications of the concerned people. Unfortunately, no IFS auditor or body is presently working in Pakistan and suppliers can hire the services of the IFS auditors from other countries or SFC will arrange Chinese auditors for Pakistani suppliers through their own links.

    SFC claimed that through their set of training/auditing system, Punjab’s farm bases would be capable of adding manifold tonnes of produce to the system, which will ensure the food security in the region and would earn billions of dollars through export of quality produce. SFC claims that 50% of yield of farm bases would be increased and up to similar percentage of post harvest losses would be decreased, if farm bases are managed through their supply chain initiative. Therefore, these types of initiatives are vital for our generations, providing care to nature and trust to consumers.

    Part of the reason of the success story of Global G.A.P.& its systematic approach, Pakistani people also need Pakistan GAP like India GAP & China GAP, by modifying & relaxing the ToRs (terms of reference) of Global G.A.P. for safe, healthy and nutritious fruits, vegetables and processed food. Government shall take this initiative to secure the health and reduce the burden from health budget.

    Pakistani farmers are far away in compliance of world’s retailers most demanded Global G.A.P rules and IFS certifications. It is the responsibility of government in general and private sector, hyper/super stores, media and NGOs in particular to disseminate the information regarding strict and demanding compliance of quality standards.

    About the Authors:

    The authors are Agricultural Economists based in Pakistan. Having served both in public & private sectors, they have been widely published by academic journals as well as various newspapers in Pakistan. They can be reached at yasirmehmood2@hotmail.com and

    bahzadpk@hotmail.com respectively. 

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