European experts educate Kyrgyz people about food security

Kyrgyzstan Materials 4 June 2009 15:39 (UTC +04:00)

Alexander Tokmakov, Deutsche Welle

Information campaign on food security was held under EU support in Kyrgyzstan. European experts are also ready for assisting to Kyrgyz producers to organize export of several goods to Europe.

Information campaign was held within realization of the agreement on partnership and cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and EU. Polls of 500 households were held before launching the project and after its completion in different regions of the country.

Knowledge of Kyrgyz people increased

Results of research showed that knowledge of Kyrgyz people on food security increased from 27 to 93 percent after explanatory work. Before launching of information campaign a few Kyrgyz people knew about genetic modified components, EU head of the project Steven John Newton said.

Roughly 43 percent of respondents said that they will complain to the state sanitary-epidemiological service if they buy inedible product. Roughly 33 percent said that they will apply to the consumer rights protection organization. Only 10 percent said that they are ready for applying to the court.

"I can tell that roughly 90 percent of citizens will apply to the court immediately in this situation in Scotland. There is great work to design mechanisms of consumer rights protection at the level of legislation and courts in Kyrgyzstan," Newton said.

Price is principal criteria while buying products

A principal criterion for most Kyrgyz people to buy food is price but not quality, he said. One of respondents of poll and explanatory campaign Jamila from Bishkek said that earlier she had never paid attention to keeping time of products and other information on label. Now she intends to buy products carefully.

"I am an accountant and I am good at counting money," Jamila said. "So, I always looked for a place where you can buy cheaper products. Usually it is market. Now, after receiving information I'm afraid I am afraid to buy many of the products as understand that it can be dangerous to the health of my family. I also began to pay more attention to what is written on packaging."

As part of an information campaign on food safety, experts from Europe held series of seminars for Kyrgyz producers to help organize export of certain types of goods to EU countries.

Walnut, honey and water

European Commission attache in Kyrgyzstan Taru Kernisalo said it will be possible only if products will conform to international standards. "We are considering possibility of assistance to exports of Kyrgyz honey, walnuts and mineral water to Europe. However, these products must undergo laboratory testing to have evidence of their safety, Kernisalo said.  

Until recently, Kyrgyzstan did not even have laboratory to conduct such tests. In particular, it was not possible to verify the existence of genetically modified components. EU assisted the country in this issue also. A new laboratory was opened at the Kyrgyz National Center of Veterinary Diagnostics.

"Now it is essential for the laboratory to receive European accreditation, but this will take at least $60,000. The accreditation needs to be renewed every year. So this is not such an easy process, as it might seem," head of the project Promotion of the Partnership Agreement and Cooperation between the EU and Kyrgyzstan Avalyan Newton said.

He said local producers will be able to conduct research on the safety of their products only after laboratory in Kyrgyzstan is accredited. The results will be recognized in Europe.

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