Roadmap on the Prospects for GMS National Scaling and GMS Regional Coordination of Agrifood Traceability Schemes
This report provides an overview of opportunities and challenges presented by the prospect of expanding agrifood traceability systems in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Based on the successful Livestock Information Traceability System (LITS) in the second phase of its Common Agricultural Support Program (CASP2), we review evidence below to support consideration of a national upscaling and regional coordination of traceability for livestock and other agrifood products. In addition to detailed discussion of institutional precedence and technology options, we offer several recommendations:
- As regional integration progresses, GMS countries are facing dramatically changing agrifood market opportunities. To capture these effectively will require determined policy support for market access and supply chain modernization.
- Agrifood market expansion can be a potent catalyst for poverty reduction if policies support adoption of appropriate technologies and institutions. In the GMS, these include e-Traceability, certification, contracting, and producer cooperatives.
- Expanding agrifood markets present new opportunities and risks for the region, as increasingly diverse biological products and economic agency complicate the food safety landscape. Managing food safety, disease, and other risks will require technological modernization, including e- Traceability to improve supply chain transparency and product quality accountability.
- Partnership with private sector actors can accelerate and reduce the public costs of supply chain modernization. Technologies like e- Traceabilty enhance private value and adoption/diffusion of these innovations can be self-financing if governments take a leadership role in establishing and administering standards.
- Regional government partnership for harmonized standards and adoption is essential to the credibility and effectiveness of supply chain technologies. Many of the potential benefits (e.g. product safety) of e- Traceability cannot be sustained without transboundary coordination.
- Global trade partners, especially in the larger and more advanced economies, have strong incentives to support GMS agrifood modernization, and the sub-regional governments and their private sector agents should take full advantage of this to promote joint ventures, technology transfer, and export market access.
- This project demonstrates that modest initial public investments can be leveraged by low-cost use technologies to significantly improve supply chain performance and participation. GMS governments and their development partners should follow this example of innovation leadership and continue making targeted investments to overcome information-base market access barriers.
- The internet database platform developed for the LITS pilot project demonstrates its potential for universal information access. This presents opportunities for market transparency, but it also raises policy issues that should be addressed regarding privacy.
- The successful implementation and positive reception of the LITS cattle pilots indicates that they should be expanded to national programs, not only in the three countries studied, but across the GMS.
- Based on global experience with a wide array of other traceable agrifood products, the LITS results also indicate that e-Traceability should be expanded to pilots for other animals including fish, fruits and vegetables, timber products, and many other live and processed agrifood products.
Specific Steps for a Traceability Program Build-out
- Initiate partnerships with existing allied official institutions and programs (health, trade, taxation, ag extension)
- Establish official regional dialog on standards and information sharing (including a secretariat, working parties on standards, implementation, and technical issues, and private supporting organization)
- Sponsorship for public sector capacity development and technology transfer
- Dedicated extension support programs for farmers, processors, distributors, vendors
- Deploy the LITS prototype (cattle) to all GMS countries
- Scale up LITS nationally and use as a prototype for establishing transboundary standards and implementation
Begin parallel development (pilots) for other product platforms