Training on Electronic Traceability for Agricultural Trade Facilitation and Smallholder Integration, Bhutan

The Trade and Investment Division (TID) at ESCAP is working together with multiple partners on a project titled: Network for Knowledge Transfer on Sustainable Agriculture Technologies and Improved Market Linkages in South and South-East Asia (SATNET Asia). The project is funded by the European Union and its general objective is to support innovation in the fields of trade facilitation and sustainable agriculture technologies in order to improve food security in these sub-regions. The Trade Facilitation component of the project aims at identifying trade facilitation measures and building capacities of government and private sector stakeholders to promote intra-regional learning of such measures in the Asia-Pacific region.

In this context, TID is organizing a series of capacity building events for seven South and South-East Asian countries on Electronic Traceability for agricultural products. Traceability, as explained by Codex Alimentarius , is the ability to follow the movement of a food item through specified stage(s) of production, processing and distribution. In a traceability system, all actors need to keep records for their suppliers and their clients (one up, one down concept). Exporters in developing countries are required to implement Traceability to be able to market their products in Europe and to other trading partners. Paper based traceability can be time consuming, difficult for record keeping and accessibility, and costly. That is where electronic traceability comes into play. However, there is still a need for building capacity on this front, as indicated by a brief survey conducted by TID recently. In addition, since agriculture in the target countries is mostly dependent on small producers, there is an opportunity for smallholders to integrate into agricultural supply chains through electronic traceability systems.