Woman facing a wall of refrigerated produce, with shopping trolley and holding a mobile phone.

Turning food safety into opportunities for businesses in Lao PDR

29 August 2022
ITC News

A Lao company strengthens farmers’ food safety and food compliance

A growing health concern has driven demand for fresh agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables as consumers look for healthier and more nutritious options for their diets.

Despite the 70% of Lao people working in the agricultural sector, most farmers lack sufficient food for their own consumption, let alone a surplus for export. Exporters also face challenges such as low productivity, poor crop handling practices and storage, which can lead to high waste and spoilage.

In situations where food safety is compromised, it can negatively impact the country's agricultural exports. Due to tightening restrictions on imported agricultural produce on health and safety grounds.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Department of Agriculture (DOA) in Lao PDR organized a series of trainings for a wide range of professionals, including farmers, producers, exporters, quality assurance/control persons and government officials. It looked at food safety and compliance with the regulations of importing countries, particularly the European Union, which has one of the strictest import rules for consumer safety.

Chansoda Luangkhot participated in the training tailored to producers. She manages the production and sales of Mai Savanh Lao, a fair-trade company founded in 2015. One of the company's core values is 'to produce and distribute high-quality food products and Laotian silk', committed to providing technical assistance to smallholder farmers throughout Lao PDR who grow the company’s products.

Participating in the training helped Chansoda grow her knowledge of food safety.

Woman speaker seated at table with microphone, man seated beside her.

"The training helped me revisit essential elements of food safety, whether it be management, quality assurance standards and other important certifications,” she says. "In our company, we are regularly coaching our staff to ensure the necessary quality of our products and the staff’s productivity. I can use the topic of the recent workshop for our next internal training to refresh my team’s knowledge.”

Each workshop was tailored to the various groups of participants in Vientiane Capital and Champasak Province. The activity is supported by the European Union through the International Trade Centre’s Systematic Mechanism for Safer Trade (SYMST) project.

In addition, Mai Savanh Lao participated in ITC’s Quality Champions Programme under its EU-funded ARISE Plus project. The Quality Champions is a pool of experts who train and coach small businesses. ITC’s technical teams of ARISE Plus and SYMST work closely together to ensure synergies and enhance the country’s exporter's opportunities in accessing regional and European markets.

About the project

The International Trade Centre’s Systematic Mechanism for Safer Trade project provides the necessary skills for participating companies to improve their market-access opportunities. It also helps build business links between farmers and exporters and increase the interest from international buyers. Ultimately, the project looks at enhancing the exporter’s opportunities in accessing regional and European markets.

The project was jointly established in 2020 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and funded by the European Union.