16 March, Thimphu. The 10th BAFRA board meeting was convened under the chairmanship of the Honb’le Lyonpo, Yeshey Dorji who is the Chairperson for the Board.
The meeting updated the Board members on the ongoing activities and achievements of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) and to seek approval and directives for the initiatives and activities in ensuring bio security and food safety in the country.
Present in the meeting were the members of the Management Board of BAFRA, established in view with the overriding pre-requisite for broad representations from the Renewable Natural Resource sector as well as from the relevant organisations including the private sector, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Affairs.
The Board discussed on the issue of imported foods with foreign language label. The Director General for BAFRA, Mr. Karma Dorji stated that anything which is imported is required to have a labelling in ‘a legible language’ and BAFRA is pursuing the issue with the Department of Trade, MoEA to exercise compliance during the issuance of the food import license.
While apprising on the accreditation of the National Food Testing Laboratory (NFTL) in Yusipang, the Board had directed to continue the monitoring system with more sample tests and data generation especially on the pesticide residue analysis in the imported fruits and vegetables including mushrooms. For the tests that cannot be conducted at NFTL, the samples are sent to the referral laboratories, and ‘The testing charges incurred for each test parameter is very expensive’. To ensure long term monitoring, there is need for adequate budget and government’s support to enhance the technical capacity.
Other administrative and pertinent technical issues related to biosecurity and food safety were also deliberated and resolved during the meeting.
The Chairman also launched the following technical documents;
- In-country livestock biosecurity guidelines;
- BAFRA’s gist of achievements report;
- Guideline for carrying-out risk assessment of GM food and feed;
- Guideline for carrying-out environmental risk assessment of
genetically modified plants;
- Guidelines for inspection and monitoring activities involving
GMOs and products thereof;
- Manual for training on GMOs/LMOs;
- Guidelines for handling applications for activities involving GMOs and products thereof;
- Laboratory manual for detection of GMO
- GMO detection methods and Protocols
Reported by Tashi Yangzom, ICS and BAFRA with photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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