The International Finance Corp. has signed an agreement with an organization in Myanmar to help food companies address and improve food safety practices.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said the partnership with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) would develop the nation’s agribusiness sector, increase exports, draw investments and generate jobs.

The UMFCCI is a national level non-governmental organization representing the private business sector. It has 16 regional and state chambers of commerce and industry, 51 affiliated associations and about 40,000 members.

Investment in food safety management systems is needed to boost growth of Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) agribusiness sector. It accounts for 38 percent of gross domestic product and 23 percent of the country’s exports.

“Myanmar’s agribusiness sector is keen to adopt world class food safety management systems,” said U Ye Min Aung, vice president of UMFCCI. “An efficient system will ultimately benefit consumers with safer food and health. It will also help increase exports and create jobs, thus driving the economy.”

In recent years the World Bank Group has supported the nation’s government in reforming the food safety framework. According to the World Food Programme, Myanmar remains one of the least developed nations in the world with an estimated 38 percent of the population living near or below the poverty line.

The agreement builds on work started in November 2017. IFC and UMFCCI organized an event in Yangon to address food safety issues with government representatives, food producers, retailers and industry experts. The aim was to show the business case for addressing food safety in a systemic and sustainable way.

Ye Tint Tun, director general of the department of Agriculture, from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, said: “We want to further increase exports and diversify opportunities in new markets for our producers. We hope that with IFC’s help we can learn from the experiences of countries around the world.”

IFC has more than 15 years’ experience of providing food safety advisory services to agribusiness and retail clients. Internationally recognized standards deliver results including better risk management and operational efficiency.

The agency helps client companies introduce an internationally recognized food safety system and works with governments and industry experts to build local capacity through training programs and workshops.

Vivek Pathak, IFC director for East Asia and the Pacific, said Myanmar will join countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam in the region, which have benefitted from IFC’s expertise in implementing internationally accepted food safety systems.

“Implementation of food safety standards and practices can help food enterprises improve efficiency and cut costs, contributing to a stronger brand value and enabling Myanmar to diversify opportunities in new markets.”

IFC’s advisory work on improving Myanmar’s food safety practices and reforming regulations is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia, Department for International Development of the United Kingdom and the Government of Japan.

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