Summary of Proceedings  


Linking Small Farmers to Market (LSFM) establishes pilot models of communities of small farmers that are able to compete in the market and set a higher price for their produce as a result of their ability to comply with industry standards of product safety and quality. LSFM entails providing these communities with the necessary technical support and a favorable policy environment that will give them the leverage to link with markets on the strength of their products’ quality and standards.

LSFM is implemented by AsiaDHRRA in partnership with the Center for Study for the Development of Agriculture in Cambodia (CEDAC), the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), the Viet Nam Farmers Union (VNFU), and Bina Desa/InDHRRA to implement the project in four pilot countries, namely: Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia.


The training workshop is second in a series of three programmatic workshops at the regional level. In addition, there will be at least five training workshops for each pilot country that will be tailor-fit to suit heir respective settings and needs.

The Second LSFM Regional Training Workshop is focused on the distinct themes of food safety and product quality, to address the general wariness of markets to link with small farmers because of the fear and perception that small farmers are unable to produce safe and high-quality products. LSFM implementers have raised the need to build capacities in this field because they have selected commodities that are part of food groups called agricultural products.

The workshop aims to enable the participants to:

  1. Identify specific food safety and product quality issues for their products, namely, tea for Vietnam, calamansi for the Philippines, and free-range native chicken for Cambodia.
  2. Explain the rationale behind product quality, most especially safety standards set by international inter-government bodies and national governments;
  3. Articulate the importance of certification, guarantees, etc. as mechanisms to secure food safety and product quality;
  4. Present practical steps that would address food safety and product quality issues in their own specific organizations and communities;
  5. Identify specific needs that require support from government and other stakeholders to improve the safety and quality of the above-mentioned commodities.

The workshop consists of five input sessions and one-day field visit, with sufficient time for plenary and open forum in-between presentations. The sessions were based on broad themes that open rooms for specific country-situations and settings. The workshop relied heavily on experience-based insights and learnings, and concrete situations on the ground.

The workshop output included:
  1. The identification of food safety and product quality issues and challenges confronting small farmers and producers;
  2. The identification of specific needs that required support from government and other stakeholders to improve safety and quality of the products; and
  3. Strengthened solidarity and constituency.


The participants consisted of LSFM implementers from Indonesia (Bina Desa/ InDHRRA), Cambodia (CEDAC), Vietnam (VNFU) and the Philippines (PhilDHRRA). AsiaDHRRA members from Thailand (SorKorPor), Taiwan (TaiwanDHRRA), Vietnam (VietDHRRA), and Myanmar (MyanDHRRA) also attended. Also present were resource persons and guests from FAORAP, CEDAC, XAES, and LSFM’s TWG members from PDAP and UMF. A big number of participants from farmers’ organizations in Cambodia (KAWP and FNN), Vietnam (VNFU), Philippines (PAKISAMA and ZASIHIVAC), and the Asian region (AFA) also came. The opening ceremony was graced by officials from Apsara Authority as the host city of the training workshop.


Session One on Food Safety and Product Quality issues and Problems consisted of country presentations from the four LSFM project implementers, Following issues and problems were identified:
  • Philippines – (1) Some farmers do not comply with guidelines for picking of calamansi; (2) Excess water and fungi cause branches to dry; (3) Monitoring by an accredited agriculturist is needed; (4) Sorting must be monitored; and (5) Some farmers tended to go back to old farming practices.
  • Cambodia – (1) Lack of chicken feeds during the dry season; (2) Markets are too far, products difficult to transport; (3) Practices by traders affect the credibility of dressed chicken in terms of safety and quality.
  • Vietnam – (1) Limited farmers’ access to knowledge and information about food safety and product quality; (2) Poor processing techniques and equipments; (3) Limited quality management and limited access to product quality certificates; and (4) difficulties in trade market development.
  • Indonesia – (1) Manual drying of seeds especially during wet season affect grain quality; (2) Lack of storage facilities; (3) Need to have more information on the practices in food safety and product quality in other countries.

Session Two on The Importance of Standardization of Product Safety and Quality, was discussed by Dr. Wen-chi Huang, Execom member of the AsiaDHRRA and its Chairperson for LSFM Project Advisory Committee. She discussed about the nature and definition of product (food) quality, standardization processes, and the importance of certification and cited specific cases of agricultural food product traceability in Taiwan as concrete examples.

Session Three on Food Safety: Issues on Food borne Diseases/Illnesses, Toxicity and Impact of GM Food was presented by Mr. Winfried Scheewe of the German Development Service who also serves as Marketing Adviser for CEDAC. He discussed about food-borne illnesses in terms of definition, effect and impact, transmittal, and origination, causes and symptoms. He proceeded to discussing the hidden threats of GM food and explained the reasons why he is advocating for the banning of GM products in the food industry.

Session Four on Food Safety Standards—CODEX Alimentarius: A Briefing on the International Food Safety Body and its Dynamics, presented by Mr. Peter Sousa Hejskov, Food Quality and Safety Officer of the FAO Regional Office in Asia Pacific, dealt with the importance of food safety and standards and discussed CODEX Alimentarius Commission in terms of its objectives, strategic goals, and strategic plan, organizational chart, and achievements.

Session Five on Mechanisms for Product Quality and Food Safety, consisted of case presentations from members of the TWG. Mr. Rene Guarin, Executive Director of UMF, presented tips for entry into supermarkets which highlighted the issue of viability and scale in complying with the high standards of food safety and product quality observed by the supermarkets. Mr. Jerry Pacturan. Chairperson of OCCP, discussed certification systems and the levels of food safety and quality control systems and the different types of community-focused guarantee systems, its features, external controls, and risk assessment.


On the factors and causes that make it difficult for farmers to comply with standards for food safety and product quality: The pressure to feed the world’s growing population is compounded by environmental destruction and climate change. Governments and producers use this kind of situation to justify the use of GMO, pesticides, and fertilizers as means to maximize soil potential. However, the problem of hunger is more due to unequal distribution of food and resources than low productivity. Farmers have also been made to believe that the use of pesticides and fertilizers is the surest way to ensure income from farming. However, more and more of them are now learning that these technologies are actually more expensive in the long term because it makes them dependent on manufacturers more and more. The competition presented by commercially-produced agricultural goods also discourages farmers to fully shift to sustainable agriculture. But enlightened consumers who have learned about the harsh impacts of GMO and chemicals on their health have become more willing to pay more for products that have assured high standards of food safety and product quality. What the farmers are doing to protect the welfare of consumers must be actively conveyed to the public.

On actual experiences of small farmers in enforcing and observing practices to ensure food safety and product quality standards: In the Philippines, it was observed that farmers are (expectedly) culturally unable to adopt fast to new farming methods. Not giving up on the demands of discipline worked, eventually. Democratic and participatory practices also helped significantly in the adoption of sustainable farming practices. In Cambodia, internal mechanisms of enforcement, such as farmer-to-farmer monitoring, are practiced. In Taiwan, getting help from professional monitors and technicians was necessary. Finally, it is important to make the distinction between food safety and product quality. The two are not one and the same / cannot be mixed although they go together. Farmers’ practices to ensure food safety do not necessarily assure product quality as there are post-harvest/production process that occur beyond the control of small farmers (e.g. handling, transport, processing, storing, packaging.)

On the ability of small farmers to access and acquire certification. Certification is not advisable for low levels of production-- it will cost the farmers and the producers too much. Especially for organic rice, huge volumes help to greatly reduce the cost of certification. It is always a question of volume and viability, especially for those looking forward to breaking into the supermarkets. It would help for the small farmers to plan ahead and identify the kinds of certification they wish to get so that they can build their capabilities accordingly, instead of having to re-tool once they realize the type of certification that their chosen markets would require of their products. Small farmers can also develop their own standards for food safety and product quality by using CODEX Alimentarius as reference for the minimum standards, and/or adopting and modifying other existing standards to suit their own particular requirements.

On standard certification vis-à-vis government requirements and the demands of markets. While it is important for governments and markets to have standards that are workable, it will also help if farmers and producers see that protecting their own products redounds, in the end, to their own benefit and self-interest. It is not only a matter of compliance with government requirements, but more about doing what is beneficial for one’s own good. It is not merely about getting a seal of certification, but more about building a good reputation to make one’s produce more competitive in the market. It’s because, in the absence of national standards, market requirements will be the main deciding factor especially since standards set by private companies are basically decided by the market requirements. No one group or mechanism monitors or regulates them.

On enforcing standards of food safety and product quality. It is important to distinguish between laws and standards. Standards are not laws, and one does not have to have a national law in order to observe and practice standards in food safety and product quality. Certification, in some cases, is largely a voluntary policy and need not be mandatory. It is part of one’s being competitive in the market and is therefore really beyond legislation and/or government certification.

On the access of small farmers to CODEX Commission. CODEX allows for different levels of participation and it is very much up to the CODEX contact persons to invite the relevant players. While there is the perception that CODEX is dominated by big business interests in the food service industry, it is really up to the countries to make use of CODEX mechanisms and to involve small scale farmers and cooperatives.


The workshop participants were divided into two groups for the field visit. They spent from 7 am to 3 pm of Day Three (Thursday, January 22) visiting the farms and interacting with farming communities.

The first group visited Teuk Vil station, a research, demonstration, training and exchange visit station of target farmers and target groups from other NGOs. They also visited farming communities in Angkor Thom district where they interacted with farmers practicing composting and sustainable agriculture, and where they met with the finance officer of the village’s saving cooperative.

The second group visited organic farm in Ba Kong, a nearby public market, and one of CEDAC’s distribution center for organic rice. They realized, among other things, that price premium for organic product cannot be enjoyed by farmers without the presence of effective intermediation mechanism that will develop the link between them and the appropriate market, and that consumer awareness is necessary to build the market for organic product.


Ms. Ramirez expressed sincere appreciation of the solidarity and support provided by the members of LSFM TWG, namely, Mr. Guarin and Mr. Pacturan, and of Mr. Scheewe and Mr. Hoejskov for graciously serving as this workshop’s resource persons. She also extended deepest gratitude to CEDAC who has been this workshop’s generous host, Gifts and tokens were given to them by Dr. Huang in behalf of AsiaDHRRA.

Mr. Hoejskov who was asked to share a parting message opined that country plans can be made more realistic and less ambitious in wanting to do everything. Ms. Sudaporn Sittisathapornkul, Chairperson of Asian Farmers’ Alliance, gave the closing remarks and thanked AsiaDHRRA for consistently remaining as AFA’s big supporter.

Ms. Ramirez, affirmed that AsiaDHRRA will start with what are already in the field, especially in the pilot countries. AsiaDHRRA will continue to link experiences and match needs with expertise. Ms. Ramirez added that AsiaDHRRA is in the process of mobilizing potential projects as they are committed to do follow-up work on LSFM. She hopes that all these efforts at the regional level will continue to cascade at the country levels. In the end, it will be up to the countries to be consistent and persistent with following up plans and activities.

She thanked the members of the AsiaDHRRA Secretariat and drew the workshop to a close.

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Food Safety And Product Quality Issues And Problems  

Country Presentations from Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia

Mr. Luis Caballero Jr., Vice Chairperson of Zamboanga Sibugay High Value Marketing Crop, presented their community’s experience in maintaining food safety and quality standards for calamansi. In terms of maintaining product quality, this involved the processes before planting, the maintenance requirements during planting season, as well as the safeguards during picking, sorting, and storage. Mr. Caballero enumerated the following issues and challenges: (1) Some farmers / pickers do not follow the guidelines in size and maturity of calamansi during picking; (2) Branches dry out due to excess water and fungi; (3) Regular monitoring of an accredited agriculturist is needed; (4) An official monitor is needed during sorting; (5) Some farmers, especially those who live far from farm-to-market roads, tend to go back to old farming practices.

Mr. Noun, chicken producer from FNN, presented Cambodia’s experience in marketing dressed chicken. He related that chicken feed during the dry season are not sufficient. They also experience difficulty in transporting the product given the great distances of markets from the farms. Because of these, the traders are able to really push down the price. They buy live chickens and slaughter them after three days. This situation has led to questionable claims about hygiene and safety that affects the credibility of dressed chicken as a product.

Representatives from Vietnam reported the following issues and concerns with regard to their product, tea: limited farmers’ access to knowledge and information about food safety and product quality; poor processing techniques and equipments; limited quality management and limited access to product quality certificates; and difficulties in trade market development.

Mr. Haryono, explained that their organization consists of 60 cooperative groups of farmers in the forests of Sumatra that have 30 member-households each. The cooperatives help in the marketing of ten tons of organic rice per month by ensuring that market demands are met and by lending to farmers in need. Since they process rice manually, the main obstacle is in drying seeds especially during the wet seasons. As small farmers, they face obstacles in marketing and product quality, and would like to have some information on the practices in food safety and product quality in other countries. They also have 50 farmer-members who are into honey production. This could be expanded to include a greater number but the organization’s capacity to organize them is limited at the moment. They are now starting to market the honey to Binadesa outlets even as the product quality is not yet fully developed.

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The Importance Of Standardization Of Food Safety And Product Quality  

By Dr. Wen-Chi Huang
Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Agribusiness Management
National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan

Dr. Wen-chi Huang, Execom member of the AsiaDHRRA and its Chairperson for LSFM Project Advisory Committee, discussed about the nature and definition of product (food) quality, standardization processes, and the importance of certification. She cited specific cases of agricultural food product traceability in Taiwan to illustrate her points, which are helped by bar code-scanning and inquiry using 3G cellphones and the internet.

Dr. Huang also related about the Han Kwan Fruit and Vegetable production cooperative which introduced modern production techniques and innovations in developing multi-faceted marketing strategies for enhancing competitiveness in the market.

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Issues On Food-Borne Diseases /Illnesses  

By Mr. Winfried Scheewe
German Development Service, CEDAC Marketing Adviser

Winfried Scheewe, DED, Marketing Consultant to CEDAC discussed about food-borne illnesses in terms of its definition, effect and impact, transmittal, and origination (from and through food). He also discussed its causes (fungal spoilage, pesticide residues, industrial chemicals, bactria) and symptoms. He enumarated the major food-borne illnesses (such as salmonella and e-coli)and common problems of food-borne diseases.

He noted that the looming climate change will probably worsen some problems, such as higher temperature and moisture and more flooding and extended droughts due to polluted water, which may lead to new problems with food-borne diseases. In conclusion, Mr. Scheewe cited Dr. Lederberg who said, “Microorganisms are opponents with whom we cannot race on their terms.” The best we can do, he said, is to try to avoid conditions in which harmful microbes can develop.

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Hidden Threats From Genetically-Modified Crops  

By Mr. Winfried Scheewe
German Development Service, CEDAC Marketing Adviser

Mr. Scheewe traced the history of GMOs as originating in the ‘80s, pioneered mainly by Monsanto and other companies (Bayer, Pioneer, Syngenta). He discussed the nature and processes of GMOs as artificial organisms, the types of GMO crops, and its risks for consumers especially the risks due to GMO transformation process. He said that something unforeseen could come out of the unnatural process, and residues of such experimental accidents could go to the consumer.

The harmless protein in one organism could be harmful in another. He explained that one study has shown that rats fed with GMO potatoes had lesions in their intestines. Four studies, three of which have been published, raised the specter that human beings have been accumulating toxins in their bodies from eating GMO crops and food products. The problem in terms of food safety is that food products made from GMO crops are not labeled as such.

He cited that nine percent of global primary crops are GMOs, and in 2006, around 100 million hectares in 22 countries are planted to GMOs. Citing Bt corn and soya GMO products as case studies, he observed that humanity has been turned into a pack of guinea pigs catching cell-damaging residues without their knowledge. He cited studies in Russia, Germany, and India supporting this observation, but the USA with its massive interest in GMO kept ignoring the facts.

Mr. Scheewe related about Europe’s policy banning GMO, and stressed the producers’ responsibility to ensure that the food they offer to consumers are in compliance with ethical and legal requirements. He is strongly in favor of rejecting and/or banning GMO products from the market.

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Codex Alimentarius: A Briefing On The International Food Safety Body And Its Dynamics  

By Mr. Peter Sousa Hoejskov
Food Quality and Safety Officer, FAO Regional Office in Asia Pacific

Mr. Peter Hoejskov started his presentation with a discussion on the importance of food safety and standards. He cited that food safety and control systems provide: the basis for inspection, testing, and certification activities; guidance to industry, consumers, government and other players in the food supply; and a general view of requirements for international trade in food. He explained the meaning of Codex Alimentarius, and introduced the founder and members of the CODEX Alimentarius Commission. Mr. Hoejskov further related its objectives, strategic goals, and strategic plan for CCAASIA.

He discussed the Commission’s structure and management, subsidiary bodies, organizational chart, standards, food safety areas of concern and the CODEX process for standards development. He listed the Commission’s achievement so far, and explained Codex in relation with WTO agreements. Finally, he discussed about international food safety regulations and standards, CODEX trust fund and FAO capacity-building programs, private food quality and safety standards in relation to CODEX, and the general challenges of private food safety standards. In conclusion, he stated that all countries have an interest in ensuring that CODEX standards protect human health and achieve this without hindering trade and economic development. External assistance by organizations and an internal commitment by countries to provide the needs for effective participation in CODES are both essential to achieve this, he added.

Mr. Hoejskov also noted that one of the main challenges for CODES is the rapid development and implementation of private standards and requirements, and that goodwill based on an understanding that development of relevant standards is a shared responsibility, should enable CODEX to keep moving forward.

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Mechanisms for Product Quality and Food Safety: Tips for Entry into the Supermarket  

By Rene Guarin
Executive Director, Upland Marketing Program

Mr. Guarin introduced the Upland Marketing Program and related about its nearly twelve years of experience in selling directly to supermarkets. He said that direct selling to supermarkets is inevitable given the worldwide trend of increasing rate of grocery sales due to various factors, such as the modernization of procurement, increasing incomes, and the growing preference of buyers for safety and convenience which the supermarkets can offer. He explained about the three waves of supermarket diffusion and noted that increasingly, supermarkets are adding more and more carts of fresh produce , fully allowing retail purchases for such just as the public markets would. More and more have flocked to the supermarkets instead of the usual public wet markets, as the latter has stricter standards for food safety and product quality.

In some countries, such as in India, prices in supermarkets are even lower than other outlets. He related the major concerns for suppliers who are dealing with supermarkets, which are volume, and reliability/ availability of consistent supplies of products. He narrated UMF’s experience to illustrate the point about the need to meet the high standards set by the supermarkets, and their requirement for consistent, steady supply of products in huge stocks or volume. He also ta
lked about mechanisms for product quality and food safety, and the matter of who sets the standards <>. He said that observing standards involves a lot of cost and effort, and standard setting will not really work if production remains small scale.

He gave examples of products that cost less to produce in good quality if done on a large-scale basis. Dealing with supermarkets means dealing with the issue of scale, which determines cost benefit and recovery for suppliers. In conclusion, Mr. Guarin said that compliance per se will not make
the products sell, but it is in really knowing, and giving, what the customers like.

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Mechanisms for Product Quality and Food Safety: Certification Systems  

By Jing Pacturan
Chairperson Organic Certification Council of the Philippines (OCCP)

Mr. Pacturan started his presentation by enumerating the factors that drive product quality and food safety. These include consumer demands, environmental concerns, health concerns, social concerns, and government requirements for international trading. He then related the various reasons why certification programs exist, and explained the meaning and definition of certification. He enumerated the various types of certification, and enumerated and explained the different types of mandatory and voluntary certification. Finally, he explained about organic certification in terms of what organic agriculture is, why the need for such, the balance of interest , the certification process, and the validity and cost of certification.

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