Mr. Jirakorn Kosaisawe, Director General of DOA,
It is my pleasure to welcome you here today, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to this Regional Training of Trainers Programme on Horticultural Chain Management, which is being implemented under the FAO Regional Technical Cooperation Project: TCP\RAS\3310, titled Capacity Development to reduce Post-Harvest losses in horticultural chains in GMS countries.
As you are aware, this TOT programme was organised to coincide with the Royal Flora Ractchphruek, 2011. I wish to extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Jirakorn and his colleagues from the Department of Agriculture, for inviting FAOs participation in this significant and important celebration.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fruits and vegetables make a substantial contribution to food and nutrition security, to poverty alleviation as well as to enhancing small farmer income across the region. Between 1999 and 2009, fruit production across Southeast Asian countries showed an average annual growth rate of 5.2 %, while vegetable production showed an annual average growth rate of 4.4 % for the same period.
Fruit consumption across the South East Asian Region is also showing an increasing trend; between 1995 and 1999, fruit consumption contributed to 2.9 % of the energy supply in diets of the South-East Asian Region, while in the 2005 - 2007 period, it contributed 3.4 %. Vegetable consumption for the same period, however, remained relatively stagnant, showing a 0.1 % increase.
As cities across the region continue to urbanise, it will be necessary to transport more fruits and vegetables from rural to urban areas, in order to meet the needs of growing urban populations. This will necessitate that produce is collected from many small rural farmers, packaged, transported, and distributed largely through the traditional supply chains that feed the region’s mass markets. The levels of losses -qualitative and quantitative- in these traditional supply chains are, however, very high, averaging around 35 – 40 % owing largely to poor and excessive handling and packaging and to temperature abuse due to the hot and humid conditions across the region.
These high levels of post-harvest loss result in the wastage of resources, reduce returns to the small producers, contribute to increased prices for consumers and add pressure to an already strained natural resource base as farmers must try to compensate by increasing their production.
It therefore follows that much more, needs to be done in this region to mitigate post-harvest losses and to improve the quality and safety of fresh produce that is sold in the local wet markets that feed the bulk of the region’s population. Achieving this will necessitate improving the level of organization within fresh produce supply chains. This can be done through, for example, the formation of producer organizations and clustering. Fundamental skills and capacities of all stakeholders in fresh produce supply chains – farmers, handlers, wholesalers and retailers – must also be developed, and simple and appropriate post-harvest management technologies and strategies must be introduced to improve handling. All of these issues are to be addressed in your respective countries within the context of the TCP project.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This regional training of trainers programme seeks to promote the sharing and exchange of knowledge and experiences in horticultural chain management and to develop a system for networking on post-harvest issues across the GMS countries.
I would like to request that you maximize the opportunity of participating in this training programme so that you can contribute to the multiplier effect of training stakeholders in your respective countries in good management practice designed to reduce losses and improve the safety and quality of the fruits and vegetables in the GMS sub-region, under this project.
I would like to close by wishing you a fruitful and productive programme.