- By Dr. Wunna Htun [Agri]
Are you sure as to whether foods you consume every day are safe for health? Have you already taken pesticide residue-contaminated crops, into which excessive amount of fertilizers and pesticides were applied at the time of plantation? Are foods and foodstuff we paid much on the assumption that they can fulfill energy and sustenance needed for our health really fit for our health? Have you noticed that agricultural systems producing today’s farming produce are harming environmental pollution and personal hygiene of our farmers and workers?
Threating environment and health
The above-said questions are threatening consumers, agro producers and foodstuff markets. People across the world are now in for health risks. Today’s crops are mostly contaminated with chemicals, microbes harmful to health, Aflatoxin commonly found in corn and groundnut including pesticides, causing many diseases and health problems to beings, such as vomiting, bowel disorders, liver disease, cancers and other chronic diseases and occasionally claiming lives.
In agriculture and farming, fertilizers and insecticides are excessively applied, thus chemicals/heavy metal included in these, namely—arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium and etc., adulterate soil, water and crops. Undeniably, it is dead sure that anyone takes such kinds of food contaminated with heavy metals will be harmed in health. With the progress in hygienic knowledge, consumers had demanded for healthy food and in international markets the practice is very popular with consumers. And, now is the time for farmers to produce crops safe for health.
Demand for safe food in global markets existed for long. Amongst changing social life, increasing care for health with the developing world what consumers actually need in their daily lives is none other than food and foodstuff certifying guarantees of safety, safe farming industries and safe agriculture system. With the development of tourism industries it is necessary for us to safely produce food and foodstuff, and simultaneously we need to prove our foods to be safe. These guarantee certificates are of great importance to put foods and foodstuff on sale at super markets and to export them into global markets. Global markets are now demanding foods and foodstuff free from pesticide residues, heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury, e coli, Salmonella and Aflatoxin. Now at the time when other countries can give guarantees about their produce, we cannot fetch good prices under the current situation. So as to deal with the problem, we have no alternative but to choose GAP System in agriculture.
GAP means good practices of taking care not to be adulterated due to chemicals and pesticide residues at every level of production from the time choosing soil for growing crops up to the time of delivering crops into the hands of consumers. Officially registered and trustworthy fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides can be applied systematically. So as not to harm environment and for environmental conservation, these must be used in systematical ways and simultaneously it needs to dispose the used wastage systematically.
GAP was initiated in Europe. Now, in Myanmar as well Myan GAP started to be launched in its own standards, implementing good practices on Myanmar agriculture, depending 4 sectors, viz—
1/ sector on safe food
2/ sector on environmental conversation
3/ sector on crop quality and
4/ sector on workers’ health, safety and pleasure on social life
If crops are to be grown in GAP System, any kinds of industries must abide by the said 4 sectors. For example, in using a kind of fertilizer
1/ Ensure that crops do not have pesticide residues and may not harm consumers.
2/ Ensure that the said fertilizer does not make the soil, water and environs dirty.
3/ The fertilizer must help the quality of the crop to be better, and it must be free from danger.
4/ Ensure that health of workers touching fertilizers must not be affected by it.
At present the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Breeding and Irrigation has drawn up procedures and standards of Myanmar GAP. Besides, instructions to be followed according to the designated crops to be grown had been discussed many times by the professionals and farmers systematically it was publicized on 10th November. Until now, concerning paddy, pulses (green gran and black gran) corn, ground-nut, sesame, coffee, mango, avocado, water melon, sweet cucumber, tomato, chilli, cauliflower, and onion, instructions had been released. Instructions will be drawn up for the other crops with high dangerous level, which are plentiful in the country’s production and attractive for outside customers.
It has already been prepared concerning the process of applying for the GAP Certificate for agricultural industries which produced by using GAP system. Implementation of the process was systematically being done by forming supervision committee for giving GAP certificates, committee for giving out GAP certificates, Education committee, Laboratory Team, Inspection Team. In 2016 27 mango plantation farms were given out certificates, with 25 mango plantation farms and 5 tomato plantation groups in 2017 respectively.
The Department of Agriculture is performing its process of technical provision of applying Myanmar GAP system and giving out the GAP acknowledgement certificates with great momentum. Here I would like to share the information that application forms are available for those who would like to get GAP Certificate by applying GAP Systems at respective township, district and Region Agricultural Department Offices and Nay Pyi Taw headquarter. And information on GAP can be enquired at those places.
Agriculture became an industry which can fetch foreign exchanges from self-help-basis backyard/kitchen plantation. People came to care the productions of agricultural produce which are healthy, nutritious and rich in sustenance. Global countries are transforming into the industries which can guarantee from the stage of normal agriculture.
It is necessary for agro-producers to systematically abide by the instructions—not to produce crops with high density of pesticide residues. Last but not least, I suggest our farmers to perform in contact with GAP, for the crops to be free from dangers, to be sold up at high price at the markets and to extend to the global market.
Khin Maung Oo