COA to Continue Promoting Traceability System for Consumers' Safety
In response to the media report that “the government promotes the production and marketing traceability system only now,” the Council of Agriculture (COA) noted that to promote healthful agriculture and take into consideration different requirements of farmers and consumers the Council has introduced multiple safe agriculture management measures such as Safe Agricultural Products (Gi-Am-Pu), Agriculture and Food Traceability System and developing organic agricultural products, and actively promoted agricultural product safety certification while striving to be in line with international standards step by step. The traceability system has not been at a standstill because of introducing multiple safety management measures and the COA will continue promoting a healthful and safe farm produce production and marketing system according to farmers’ willingness, market conditions and product features to look after the interests of both consumers and farmers.
Traceability System Emphasizes Safety with Information Disclosure But Not Suitable for All Agricultural Products
The Council said agriculture and food traceability is a voluntary certification system with benchmarks that can be traced back, but it is quite difficult to persuade aging farmers into adopting the system because of relatively high certification costs, strict and complicated specifications and having to use computer for information input. The most direct and positive incentive is certified products can be sold at a much higher price, so these products are mainly sold through distribution channels for higher priced products such as direct sales and home delivery services. Therefore, the COA has promoted agriculture and food traceability system based on to the following three principles: 1) required by foreign importers; 2) distribution channels are risk-free and sale prices can reflect production costs; and 3) there are safety concerns about the food item. The Council will select appropriate agricultural products to continue promoting the traceability system and gradually upgrade it to meet international standards (such as GLOBALGAP).
To satisfy the needs of different consumers, the COA has promoted simultaneously Gi-Am-Pu (Safe Agricultural Products) for safe vegetable and fruit, CAS quality agricultural product, organic product and traceability and certification systems with government monitoring and guidance according to farmers’ acceptance of them.
COA Decided in 2007 to Gradually Lower Subsidies to Certification Cost
The Council said a voluntary certification system is supposed to attract producers’ introduction with market incentives, but it decided to subsidize certification costs because the market advantage did not show quickly due to low supply capacity and lack of consumer awareness when the traceability system was implemented in 2007. But the Council also decided to gradually returning to market mechanism by decreasing subsidies to certification costs from 100% in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to 2/
As of the end of May 2011, there were 13 traceability certification bodies and 1,307 agricultural product producers with valid traceability certificate. And products with traceability label increased from 72 items in 2007 to 141 items in 2010 with their output value growing from NT$400 million to NT$3.9 billion.
Promoting Traceability Certification Benchmarks to Meet International Standards