Achieving leadership in the codex process

20-22 September, Punakha: Around forty participants are attending a three days advocacy workshop on a theme “Achieving leadership in the codex process” at Drubchhu Resort, Lobeysa. Participants include representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan, State Owned Enterprises, World Health Organization and World Food Programme country office are attending the workshop.

The workshop is aimed at strengthening the national Codex programme in Bhutan, addressing the gaps identified using the Codex Diagnostic Tool, increasing the understanding on the importance of Codex standards for consumer protection and fair practices in food trade, and enhancing engagement in international standard setting process among the relevant agencies. It is being facilitated by experts from India, WHO South East Asia Regional Office, New Delhi and FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.

The opening session was graced by Dr. Tashi Samdup, the Director General for Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA); Dr. Gyanendra Gongal, Regional Advisor for Food Safety, WHO SEARO and Dr. Shridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer, FAO RAP.

In his inaugural address, the Director General highlighted the important role of the relevant agencies in contributing to the work of Codex at national and international levels to protect plant, animal and human health. Dr. Gongal commended Bhutan for taking proactive initiatives towards improving the food safety situation of Bhutan and reiterated on the importance of benefiting from Codex Trust Fund to better participate and contribute towards Codex works. Dr. Shridhar Dharmapuri emphasized on using the Codex texts to further strengthen the national food control system to achieve food safety and ensure fair practices in trade.

This workshop is a part of Codex Trust Fund (CTF) tripartite project for Bhutan, India and Nepal, with the goal to strengthen the function of National Codex Structures through effective engagement of all stakeholders in Codex activities and standard setting process.

Specialist Promotion


22 July 2021: Dr. Chador Wangdi who was serving as Chief Regulatory Quarantine Officer under Plant and Animal Biosecurity Division (PABD) of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests got promoted to the post of a Specialist III. He completed his Bachelors in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharward, Karnataka, India and joined the civil service in January 2005.  He holds a Master Degree in Veterinary Science from James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.

He is one of the youngest civil servants to be promoted to the post of Executive Specialist (ES3) in the Ministry of Agriculture of Forests.

A small Tashi Khadar ceremony was organized by BAFRA on 22 July 2021. The occasion was graced by His Excellency Sanam Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, Dasho Secretary Rinzin Dorji, MoAF, Heads of Department and other stakeholders.

The MoAF would like to extend our heartfelt Tashi Delek to Dr. Chador Wangdi and wish him the best for his new position.

During the occasion, the Hon’ble Director General, BAFRA also awarded the Tashi Khadar and insignia to other 8 officials of BAFRA from Head Office and Thimphu Dzongkhag.

Director General, BAFRA, with Dr Chador Wangdi (First Row, Second from Left) and other promoted officials

Press Release – World Food Safety Day 2021

Today as the world celebrates the third World Food Safety Day (WFSD) with the theme “Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow” to draw attention and inspire action to promote food safety as every one’s business, BAFRA would like join hands in solidarity with everyone on this 3rd WFSD and emphasize that there can be no health, no nutrition and no food security without food safety. Safe food is essential to human health, nutrition and food security.

BAFRA is pleased to announce that in line with this year’s world food safety day theme, it has launched the following food safety awareness campaign and collaborative events with relevant partners to commemorate the third world food safety day on 7th June 2021:

  1. Partnership with the College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan

College campuses play an important role in building momentum towards a better and safer food system and youth play an important role in creating awareness on food safety for better community engagement. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Poster.jpg
Poster competition
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-7.png
Video competition

The students of Food Science and Technology are the future employees of the food industries and hence have a critical role in promoting food safety in the food industries. Therefore, BAFRA has collaborated with the CNR Food Science and Technology Program to run an online poster and video competition on the “Importance of codex standards for food trade and consumer protection”. This campaign was launched in the first week of May 2021 via digital platform using Facebook.  

  • Partnership with the Royal Civil Service Commission’s Wellbeing Services Division

National Government are critical for ensuring safe and nutritious food for all and civil servants in Bhutan play an important role as agent of change in their homes, offices and community at large. BAFRA therefore,

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-6.png
Cake cutting ceremony

collaborated with the RCSC’s Wellbeing Services Division to create awareness on food safety in the public sector and foster collaboration among the public health, animal health, agriculture sector including the private sectors. A half-day food safety awareness program was organized jointly by BAFRA and RCSC for the Women’s Hoops for Health Initiative at Chang Basketball Complex on 28 May 2021 to publicize food safety as a key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Food Safety posters, pamphlets and promotional materials were distributed during the event. The outdoor event was jointly graced by the RCSC’s Hon’ble Chairperson Dasho Karma Hamu Dorji and the Director Generals of BAFRA, RCSC and MoLHR.  


Women’s Hoops for Health members 
  • Launching a Food Label Literacy Program with the Word Food Program of the United Nations

To promote safe and nutritious food consumption in Bhutan, BAFRA in collaboration the WFP Country Office Bhutan has launched two series of “Zhego Delek’ articles to educate the Bhutanese consumers on Food Safety, Food Quality and Food Adulteration in the weeks leading to the WFSD 2021. The third series which is a food label literacy video is being rolled out today using digital platform (through MoAF & BAFRA Websites and BAFRA’s Facebook Page) to commemorate the third world food safety day.  The food label literacy video may be accessed at link given below

https://youtu.be/c0z5wR1ypdY

Food Section, BAFRA, MoAF

Facilitating Third-Party Certification of Agro-based CSI Products

19-20 April 2021, Bumthang: A two-day workshop on “Finalization of Scheme of Testing and Inspection (STI) for Cottage and Small Industries (CSI) based food products” was held from 19–20 April 2021 in Bumthang. The workshop was organized by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) as part of the CSI Flagship Program under the Department of Cottage and Small Industry, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).

Relevant CSIs based in Trongsa and Bumthang, Economic Development Officers from Dzongkhags, officials from One Gewog One Product (OGOP), Queen’s Project Office; National Dairy Research and Development Centre (NDRDC), Department of Livestock; National Post Harvest Centre (NPHC), Department of Agriculture and officials from National Food Testing Laboratory, BAFRA field offices and the BAFRA head office participated in the Workshop.

The workshop was organized as part of initiatives towards achieving Domain 5 of CSI Flagship Program: MARKET ACCESS, for agro-based CSI products through standardization, testing and certification. The objective of the Workshop was to finalize the following technical STIs (drafted in November 2020) in consultation with the relevant CSIs, to certify food products as per the National Standards:

  1. Draft Scheme of testing and inspection manual for Buckwheat Flour as per BTS 303:2020
  2. Draft Scheme of testing and inspection manual for Butter as per BTS 299:2020
  3. Draft Scheme of testing and inspection manual for Datshi as per BTS 300: 2020
  4. Draft Scheme of testing and inspection manual for Herbal Tea as per BTS 304:2020
  5. Draft Scheme of testing and inspection manual for Paneer as per BTS 301: 2020 (IS 10484:1983)

The finalized STIs will serve as a basis for the implementation of the Standard by the CSIs for self-monitoring and internal controls. BAFRA will also carry out inspection, testing and certification as per the requirements detailed in the STI following the certification procedures of ISO/IEC 17065:2012 (Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services).

Plant Inspection and Pest and Disease Diagnostics

15-16 April 2021, Thimphu: The Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) organized a 2-day training for the Plant Regulatory and Quarantine Officials on “Plant Inspection and Pest and Disease Diagnostics” from 15-16 April 2021 at Thimphu Residency in Thimphu. The primary objective of the training was to enhance competency of the inspectors for timely detection and management of quarantine importance plant pests, diseases and Invasive Alien Species (IAS). As to achieve the objective, the training touched on the following areas, beside others:

  1. Quarantine and regulated plant pests and diseases for Bhutan
  2. IAS and its risk assessment
  3. Identification of plant pest and disease specimens using diagnostic tools and equipment (practical session)

The opening session of the training was graced by the Director General, BAFRA. In his opening remarks he highlighted on the need for such training programme for the inspectors in order to keep them updated of the emerging plant biosecurity threats and accordingly, an applicable preparedness and response plan should be put in place for implementation, should there be any detection or introduction of quarantine importance pest and disease in the country. He also emphasized on the need to ingrain in oneself the qualities of astuteness and adroitness to perform the day-to-day activities more effectively and efficiently.

On the first day of the training, a procedural manual for Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) which was developed collaboratively by National Plant Protection Centre (NPPC) and BAFRA was also launched. This procedural manual will be one important tool to support and guide the National Plant Protection Organization for Bhutan (i.e. BAFRA) to conduct PRA and facilitate traders who are engaged in trade of plants and plant materials through prescription of specific phytosanitary requirements. 

The resource person for the training was from NPPC. A total of 18 BAFRA officials from the western region participated in the training physically and 17 officials largely from the Entry Point Offices participated virtually.

Launching of Procedural Standard of Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) by the Director General and PRA Technical Committee
Director General with the resource person and participants

Facilitating Agro-based SMEs to Implement Food Hygiene and Food Safety Requirements

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_5502-1-1024x683.jpg

9-13 March 2021, Punakha: As part of the EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project, funded by the EU and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) organized a one-day Awareness Workshop on Food Hygiene and Food Safety, followed by four-day Training Workshop on Codex Hygiene Principles and Requirements from 9 to 13 March 2021 at Khuruthang, Punakha.

The awareness workshop was attended by top management or top management representatives of agro-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for selected value chain products such as ginger and turmeric, mushrooms and Yak dairy. Officials from the ITC head quarters in Geneva, WFP Country office, the National Dairy Research and Development Centre under the Department of Livestock, National Post Harvest Centre under the Department of Agriculture, Project Management Unit of the EU-Bhutan Trade Support Project, BAFRA field offices and the head office also participated in the workshop. The Workshop sessions were virtually led by Dr. Namrata Wakhaloo, ITC Food Safety Expert and resource person. The opening session was graced by the Director General of BAFRA.

The Workshops were organized with the objectives to;

  1. enhance the food business’s top management commitment to the production and handling of safe food.
  2. educate on the importance of food hygiene by all personnel in the food business.
  3. enhance the understanding of selected Trainer cum Counselors (TcCs) to guide and support SMEs in an effective way to implement and comply with Codex food hygiene requirements.

Director General, BAFRA with the Workshop participants

Awareness meeting on Biosecurity and Food Safety Requirement to Facilitate Trade( 25-26 Feb 2021) at Hotel Pema Karpo, Wangdue

Objectives:

To create awareness on;

  • Plant and Animal Biosecurity and Food safety requirements
  • Import and export requirements of RNR products to address current evolving trade issues
  • Food safety requirements, import and export  requirements of food commodities

About 25 Participants comprising representatives from Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector, Extension Officials, Local Government (Gup), businessmen, BAFRA officials participated in the meeting. The awareness workshop received overwhelming support from Extension Officials and local government and expected to disseminate information and advise farmers and primary producers to fulfill import requirement and facilitate exports of RNR products.

The workshop was organized with generous financial support of Enhanced Integrated Framework, DoT, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Thimphu.

Submitted: BAFRA Plant Section

Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) Training of Trainers

The National Food Testing laboratory (NFTL) under Bhutan Agriculture & Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA), is located at Yusipang, Thimphu, and provides food testing services for microbiological, chemical, and GMO parameters. Further, to establish increased confidence in the test reports, NFTL is accredited for ISO/IEC 17025: 2017 (General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories) since 2012 vide certificate number TC-5463 by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), India.

In pursuit of improving the food testing services delivery to the public in real-time and to have a robust, efficient, and flawless information management system, NFTL has developed a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) through the support of the Fleming Fund Country Grant. With the LIMS system in place, the customers can submit their sample applications online from any place and receive the test report instantly. Further, any developments related to food testing services will be posted in real-time for the benefit of customers.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3.png

 

 

 

Inline, the NFTL Laboratory officials are undergoing a two-days Training of Trainers Programme on the LIMS from 25-26 February 2021. After the training, they will train the customers and BAFRA officials on the use of LIMS.



Awareness meeting on Biosecurity and Food Safety Requirement to Facilitate Trade( 14-15 December 2020 at Tashi Namgay Resort, Paro)

Objectives:

To create awareness on;

  • Plant and Animal Biosecurity and Food safety
  • Import and export requirements of RNR products to address current evolving trade issues
  • Food safety requirements, import and export  requirements of food commodities

Participants


Participant comprised representatives from Dzongkhag Agriculture Sector, Extension Officials, Local Government (Gup), Food Corporation of Bhutan Ltd, National Seed Centre, Exporters/Importers, Meat shop proprietors, Nursery managers. The awareness workshop received overwhelming support with Extension Officials committing to disseminate information and advise farmers to fulfill import requirement and facilitate exports of RNR products.

The workshop was organized with generous financial support of Enhanced Integrated Framework, DoT, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Thimphu.

Submitted: BAFRA Plant Section

Strengthening BAFRA’s Inspection Services: ToT on ISO/IEC 17020:2012

30 November 2020, Paro: A five-day Training of Trainers programme on ‘ISO/IEC 17020:2012 for strengthening BAFRA’s Inspection Services’ for BAFRA field officials is being organized from 30 November – 4 December 2020 in Paro and also on Zoom Platform. The programme is being organized by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) as part of its initiatives to strengthen the inspection services as per the requirements of ISO/IEC 17020 (Conformity assessment – Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection).

The objective of the ToT is to build the technical capacity of BAFRA officials to implement the ISO 17020 Standard. The trained officials are required to impart the training to the field officials in their respective offices and oversee its implementation.

Participants at the ToT programme in Paro
Participants joining via ZOOM

The ToT programme in Paro has 21 participants from BAFRA field offices in Paro, Thimphu, Gasa, Haa, Wangdue, Punakha, Dagana, Tsirang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Lhuentse, Mongar, Tashigang, Tashiyangtse, Pema Gatshel, Zhemgang. Also, 19 officials from Phuentsholing, Chukha, Gedu, Gelephu, Sarpang, Samtse, Tashicholing, Gomtu, Samdrupjongkhar, Samdrupcholing, Jomotshangkha, Panbang, Wamrong, Nganglam, Gelpoishing, Lhamoizingkha and Dagapela, are participating to the training via Zoom platform.

Facilitating certification of agro-based CSI products

25 November 2020, Tsirang: A five-day workshop on “Developing draft Scheme of Testing and Inspection (STI)” for products of Cottage and Small Industries (CSIs) is being held from 23-27 November 2020 in Damphu, Tsirang. The workshop is being organized by Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) as part of the CSI Flagship Program under the Department of Cottage and Small Industry, Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).

The workshop is organized as part of initiatives towards achieving Domain 5 of CSI Flagship Program: MARKET ACCESS, for agro-based CSI products through standardization, testing and certification. The objective of the Workshop is to draft the technical STIs, to certify food products as per the following National Standards:

  1. BTS 299:2020 Bhutan Standard for Butter
  2. BTS 300:2020 Bhutan Standard for Datshi
  3. BTS 301:2020 (IS 10484:1983) Bhutan Standard for Paneer
  4. BTS 303:2020 Bhutan Standard for Buckwheat Flour
  5. BTS 304:2020 Bhutan Standard for Herbal Tea
Workshop attendees at Tsirang

The STIs will be drafted as per the technical product specifications detailed in the National Standards, it will be finalized in consultation with concerned representatives from food industries in the country. The STIs will serve as a basis for the implementation of the Standard by the CSIs for self-monitoring and internal controls. BAFRA will also carry out inspection, testing and certification as per the STI following the certification procedures of ISO/IEC 17065:2012 (Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services).

Representatives from One Gewog One Product (OGOP), Queen’s Project Office; National Dairy Research and Development Centre (NDRDC), Department of Livestock; National Post Harvest Centre (NPHC), Department of Agriculture and officials from National Food Testing Laboratory, BAFRA field offices and the BAFRA head office are participating in the Workshop.

Press release on Codex Workshop

Apprises of BAFRA Webinar 1

Celebration of BAFRA’s 20th Foundation day

It was a special day for the family of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) as we celebrated the 20th Foundation day on 5th August 2020. BAFRA was founded as the competent authority for “Biosecurity and Food Safety”, with the mandate “to safeguard plants, animals and environment from biosecurity threats and ensure safe food for the consumers through science-based approaches for socio-economic wellbeing and sustainable environment“.

BAFRA head office organized a small cake ceremony, wherein the former Director Generals of BAFRA, Dasho Karma Dorji and Dasho Namgay Wangchuk along with the current Director General of BAFRA, DR Tashi Samdup graced the day. The BAFRA field offices in 20 districts also celebrated the day in their respective offices. It was a day to acknowledge all the contributions by the founders, leaders and officials of BAFRA while reflecting on our beginnings and the significant achievement.

The DG of BAFRA expressed gratitude to the former DGs of BAFRA for their dynamic leadership and also expressed great appreciation to all the BAFRA colleagues at head office and field offices for their hard work. He urged everyone to continue with the same spirit to fulfill the important mandates and to take BAFRA to even greater heights. By inspiring ourselves through our leaders and realizing the strength of collective efforts of each and every individual of BAFRA, we re-dedicated ourselves to continue working harder in the service of Tsa-Wa-Sum. 


Picture: Former DGs of BAFRA and the current DG

Please click here to read the message from Chief, FQSD on BAFRA’s 20th Foundation Day.