Despite the restrictions imposed due to the spread of COVID-19, CANDY V continues to run its activities. All project activities are undertaken in a virtual manner and online meetings are held with the use of platforms such as Webex, Zoom and Skype. The project has advanced on three of its five outputs in its effort to support BIOs and MSMEs operating in the agribusiness sector:
(I) Commercial quality standards
- On June 3-6, 2020, an online / remote working meeting of the “National Technical Groups” (NTG), accountable to the “Central Asian Working Group to Promote Quality and Food Safety Standards in the Region” (CARG) was held. The meeting was attended by members of four NTGs from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The CARG created in 2017 under the CANDY IV project with financial support from the EU Central Asia Invest program as a regional platform has two main goals: regional cooperation to improve the quality and food safety of food products; internal integration of the region in order to achieve cooperation and harmonization of legislation. Following a 3-day online meeting, NTG members of four countries discussed and jointly developed new standards in order to give them international status on the UNECE international platform for dried and dry fruits for the following products:
- dried persimmon;
- apricot kernel kernels;
- inshell peanuts;
- peanuts peeled.
- On June 15-17, 2020, a meeting of the 67 specialized sections on the development of standards for dry and dried products was held in Geneva. Members of the four NTG presented and defended standards for above mentioned four products.
At the moment, all standards will be tested by manufacturers for at least one year, and will then be accepted with an international status. During the meeting (from June 15-17) of the specialized section on the development of standards for dry and dried products, members presented two regular explanatory materials that were approved by delegations from Germany, Poland, France and the United States.
(II) Food safety and traceability:
- In Tajikistan, the development of a National Interpretative Guide (NIG) on food safety standard Global G.A.P is in process. The draft of the next version of the NIG has been submitted to all relevant Ministries for consideration. This is a mandatory document to ensure understanding and correct interpretation of the requirements of the internationally recognized GlobalG.A.P standard. Tajikistan will be the first country in the region, which has developed such a document. It should be approved by the GlobalG.A.P secretariat in the near future. Further, this approach will be applied in other countries covered by the project. The discussion and development of NIG is facilitated by a project team with the participation of local partners and two international organizations GIZ & USAID.
- Capacity building in Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). On June 22-26, 2020, the project consortium conducted the first cycle (five days) of online IQMS training for participants from four target countries. The training was attended by 27 local and regional consultants. The seminar was held by the accredited European company Quality Austria which is a partner in the framework of this project. The following IQMS training cycles will be held in the region from August to October 2020. Moodle and Webex ensured a successful conduction of this training in a webinar format, including group work.
(III) Product promotion:
- From May to July 2020, the project consortium with the active participation of relevant government agencies launched the process of forming multi-stakeholder Working Groups to promote Geographical Indications in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
- Since the beginning of June 2020, the project consortium has launched comprehensive multi-session (cycle)-webinars to increase the awareness/recognition of regional products through Geographical Indications. Four cycles of webinars have been successfully held for participants from Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The webinar participants began the process of identifying and selecting products with special quality characteristics, which allows them to increase their market potential and price. For participants from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the seminars will begin in the first decade of July 2020. Seminars on GI as a tool for the development of regions are held for the first time in Central Asia; earlier seminars on this topic were held, but they dealt with tools for possible product protection in local and foreign markets.
- The work of the four “working groups” on GI is coordinated by the ministries and departments of the countries of the region, for example, in Kyrgyzstan the WG is headed by the Ministry of Agriculture, in Kazakhstan the WG is headed by the Minister of Trade and Integration, in Tajikistan – by the Agency for Export under the Government. The created and existing WGs are actively involved in the activities of the project on GI issues; together with the businesses they identify potential products, with a potential GI.
More information on the project itself can be found here.