Monday, September 25, 2017

Quality certification sought for Myanmar prize mangos

To help boost international exports of Myanmar’s famous sein ta lone (diamond) mangos, the agriculture ministry is preparing farmers for an audit that would demonstrate adherence to international food safety standards.

A customer looks over a pile of mangos at an outdoor market. Photo: StaffA customer looks over a pile of mangos at an outdoor market. Photo: Staff

Sein ta lone are the most popular variety of mangos for export, mostly grown in Mandalay Region and southern Shan State.

The good agricultural practice (GAP) certificate shows buyers that “fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards”, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The agriculture ministry has drawn up Myanmar-specific guidelines to be followed by fruit farmers, who must state which pesticides they use, and how much and how often, said U Aye Ko Ko, deputy director for the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation’s agriculture department.

“During the mango season, which will come around soon, sein ta lone mangos are famous overseas,” he said. A GAP audit will boost customer trust in quality and safety and can also help farmers to sell the fruit for a higher price.

The wheels for the audit are in motion, U Aye Ko Ko said, both for sein ta lone mangos and other fruit.

Farmers are being briefed about the importance of keeping fruit free from heavy metals, of not using too much pesticide and insecticide, and of taking safety precautions, he added.

Despite being a largely agricultural country, Myanmar is underdeveloped in terms of food science and safety, said U Myo Kywe, rector of Yezin Agricultural University in Nay Pyi Taw. As a result, fruit exports from Myanmar have been rejected by other countries because of the use of pesticides.

“Both mango and bean exports have been rejected for this reason in the past, because we don’t have the right techniques yet,” he said.

The GAP audit will cover the farming process from start to finish, assessing food safety, product quality, environmental impact, social security for workers and health procedures, U Aye Ko Ko said. “This means consumers can eat our products without worrying about their health.”

The agricultural department will conduct laboratory experiments on soil samples extracted from farms to check for mercury, he added. GAP certificates will be issued under the department of agriculture’s garden and botany sub-department.

Farmers in Kayan and Thongwa townships in Yangon Region and Thanatpin township in Bago Region are already planting green beans under GAP guidelines.


Translation by Kyawt Darly Lin