The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is the competent authority for biosecurity and food safety systems to promote the quality and safety of food and agricultural related products. The BAFRA was officially established as the Quality Control and Regulatory Services (QCRS) in August 2000.
The BAFRA Head Office is located near the Tashichhodzong and within the premises of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests Office complex.
The BAFRA is headed by the Director General and the agency has two divisions -Quality Control and Quarantine Division (QCQD) and Analytical and Certification Division (ACD). Apart from the head office, BAFRA has field offices in 20 Dzongkhags, Dungkhags, major entry points, minor entry points and other branch offices including the National Food Testing Laboratory (NFTL) at Yusipang, Thimphu.
Management Board (MB):
The BAFRA is governed by a Management Board (MBBAFRA). The MBBAFRA represents the Royal Government’s sincere intention to promote the quality and safety of goods and products related to the Ministry and its clients. Therefore, the composition of the MBBAFRA reflects the interests of stakeholders and key actors. The MBBAFRA is represented by the relevant Departments and Agencies within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. Other external members include the Heads of Department of Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Department of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Finance and Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (representing the private sector). The Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Forests is the Chair of the MBBAFRA and the Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests as Vice Chair and the Director General, BAFRA, MoAF as the Member Secretary.
BAFRA shall strive to contribute towards the national goal of food self sufficiency by safeguarding the farming system of the country from exotic pests and diseases and ensuring quality farming inputs through effective enforcement of standards and regulations.
It shall facilitate the development of agro-based industries and enhance Bhutan’s ability to compete in the global market, thereby improving the livelihood of the Bhutanese people. It shall endeavor to assure that foods are of good quality and safe for consumption.
- Implement RNR related legal instruments such as the Plant Quarantine Act, Seed Act, Pesticide Act, Livestock Act, Food Act, National Biosafety Framework, Forest and Nature Conservation Act, Biodiversity Act and their secondary and tertiary legislations.
- Implement sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures effectively to protect the health and life of humans, plants and animals including the environment from risks of entry, establishment and spread of exotic pests and diseases.
- Function as a National Food Inspectorate to ensure that food is of good quality and safe for human consumption.
- Regulate and promote the quality of agriculture inputs (seeds, agro-chemicals, livestock, veterinary biological, etc).
- Facilitate development of agro based industries to promote trade and market access through standardization and implementation of quality assurance systems.
- Function as the Competent Authority (CA) for implementation of the Biosafety Act for safe transfer, handling and use of Living modified Organisms (LMOs), Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their products.
- Function as the Focal Points for International Organizations viz.,
- International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC),
- Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC),
- National Enquiry Point for World Trade Organization-Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (WTO-SPS agreement),
- International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) for International Health Regulations (IHR)
- Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) for Conventional Biodiversity (CBD)
Permits and Certificates:
BAFRA carries out inspection and certification of food and agricultural goods and products to ensure its quality and safety and also to facilitate trade and increase market access. For any import or export of food and agricultural goods and products, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) permits need to be obtained from BAFRA prior to importation or exportation. Similarly, for the movement of plants, animals and their products within the country, an in-country movement permit can be obtained from the nearest BAFRA offices.
National Food Testing Laboratory (NFTL), Yusipang, Thimphu:
The NFTL is located in Yusipang about 15 Km from Thimphu City. It consists of Food Microbiology Laboratory, Residue Laboratory, Nutrition Laboratory, Contaminants Laboratory and GMO (Biotechnology) Detection Laboratory.
The following are the major official entry and exit points for import and export inspection and certification that are manned by the BAFRA field officials:
- Paro International Airport
The BAFRA functions with following staff categories:
- General administration and management personnel
- Regulatory and Quarantine personnel for livestock section
- Regulatory and Quarantine personnel for plant section
- Regulatory and Quarantine personnel for food section
- Laboratory services personnel
- Elementary service personnel (ESPs)
Today, BAFRA has a total of 197 staff.