Global food safety and food security are key principles to be followed in the context of the implementation of Food Safety Management Systems (FSMSs) and capacity-building programs. This research article assesses the contemporary developments of FSMS standards as capacity-building programs (CBPs) worldwide and identifies the primary constraints and advantages associated with their implementation by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and smallholder farmers (SHFs) across different world regions.

The lead authors and contributors of a recent research paper on FSMS implementation in SMEs in developing regions1,2 have collaborated to publish this research article expressly for Food Safety Magazine. They are active and reliable agriculturists; capacity-building program contractors-delegates; academics; and food safety professionals, practitioners, experts, and specialists.

The parallel theme and method of analysis of this article are supported by references, expert work experience in the field, and survey data analysis. FSMSs or agri-food systems such as global good agricultural practices (GLOBALG.A.P.) may be accepted as within the scope of CBPs. Fundamental prerequisite programs (PRPs), good manufacturing practices (GMPs), sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), environmental monitoring programs (EMPs), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), monitoring and recordkeeping, risk management, process-based microbiological criteria, food defense Threat Assessment and Critical Control Points (TACCP), food fraud Vulnerability Analysis and Critical Control Points (VACCP), food safety culture, etc. as a management system or standalone standard operating procedure (SOP) are, in effect, CBPs whether they are mandatory, voluntary, local, national, or global standards.3,4

Food Security in Agriculture and Food

Safeguarding regional food security and ensuring the efficient supply of vital agricultural commodities requires the harmonization of regional water and soil resources. The underpinning of fundamental human sustenance, propelling of societal advancement, and upholding of ecological equilibrium comes from the intricate interplay among water, energy, food, and carbon, hence making this domain very significant. We need water and energy, as essential inputs, to survive and produce food, whereas the outputs are food production and carbon emissions, with the latter representing a less favorable byproduct that needs to be controlled. These four factors interact, mutually catalyze, and form an extensive and intricate framework of interrelations, as reported by Ren et al.5 Agricultural structural reforms from the supply side and transformation of agricultural development approaches originate from the optimization and adjustment of crop planting structures, and this depends on the interconnection between water, energy, food, and carbon.

The synergistic effects among key factors within the water-energy-food-carbon nexus need to be explored in the context of the sustainable development of each element and the reduction of any association or correlation between these factors. Studies have explored the nexus between water and energy, water and food, and water and land. In Germany in 2011, the concept of interrelated factors was first reported as a "nexus relationship." The research focused on carbon and forests. Research into the relationship between two interrelated factors involves the assessment of the impact of one factor on the other and the quantification of demand.

Causal loop diagrams with dimensionality reduction to qualitatively analyze the system characteristics of the "water-energy-food-carbon" nexus have been employed by Zhang et al.6 Moreover, additional factors including climate change, international policies, and market dynamics affect agricultural production heavily, challenging the stability of the system.

Assessing security, risk, adaptability, and sustainability is carried out by the indicator-based evaluation approach. In addition, other models can be incorporated such as the spatiotemporal water-energy model, SPATNEX-WE. Tools include Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM), based on the input-output model framework. Significant modeling tools encompass GLOBIOM, CLEWS PRIMA, etc.

Optimization related to tightening relationships includes optimization of the main participation objects within the factor framework, such as bioenergy production and use, crop planting optimization, and optimization of the overall performance of each factor. The mutual feedback and coordination between factors need to be considered in terms of "water-energy-food-carbon."

The system performance following optimization has been considered by Liu et al.7 System synergy, adaptability, and sustainable development also need to be considered. Adjusting the crop planting structure can improve the system structure of food production and lead to the stabilization of food prices. The optimization of planting structures can reduce inter-regional water transfer and increase the reasonable allocation of intra-regional water resources.

For the optimization of planting structure and the inclusion of a "water-energy-food-carbon" system, it is required not only to consider the crop planting area but also the spatial distribution of crop planting. Other significant factors should be determined such as environmental factors, management factors, and spatial distance affecting crop yields, water consumption, and energy consumption.

The Current Forecast

The current forecast for global population growth is 9.8 billion people by 2050 and 10.9 billion people by 2064. It is believed that the existing exploitable land, as well as the available natural resources, will not be enough to meet human needs in the future. Since the land on the planet is fixed and agricultural land decreases over time due to its degradation, two scenarios are born: one concerning the increase of agricultural land and the decrease of the population, and the other concerning exactly the opposite.

However, these two scenarios do not offer a solution to the needs and sustainability of the present generation in the future. The circular economy could contribute to the reduction of natural resources since its basic principles include the reduction, reuse, and recycling of all materials. Moreover, studies have shown that average temperatures are increasing, and at the same time, the frequency with which extreme weather events occur is also increasing. The combination of the above climatic changes makes increasing the productivity of crops complicated.

Innovative agricultural solutions are needed to increase crop productivity to meet ever-increasing food demand. In this context, smart and sustainable practices are required in the agricultural sector, although this sector is characterized by complexity, as many pre- and post-harvest factors are difficult to predict and control. Increasingly, conventional agriculture is giving way to smart and precision farming. Sensors, actuators, drones, and satellite images are used that aim to monitor crop conditions and elements related to their health, soil conditions, as well as climate data to maximize crop productivity. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, cloud computing, big data blockchain, and deep learning are among the technologies used in smart agriculture.

Drought or flood, land preparation, seed selection, tilling, and other land parameters as well as weather, crop selection, soil fertility, seed germination, pesticide application, yield forecast, and output prediction are the main pre-harvest activities. During harvest, crop protection and water management are important and include weed control, disease analysis, soil health monitoring, pest and pesticide controls, water irrigation, fertilizers, disease detection, pathogen detection, and crop losses. Food processing, cleaning, sorting, packaging, cooling, storage, transport, and agro-waste management are the main post-harvest activities.

The technology that exists in smart agriculture enables food producers to make accurate decisions about the suitability and acclimatization of a crop in a particular environment and the precise use of fertilizers and plant protection products, and at the same time to give the crop as much water as it needs based on the composition of the soil and its pH. Farmers monitor and view many meteorological data points, such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation. Therefore, the knowledge of specific information through advanced devices enables farmers to make correct decisions about the use of specific land, irrigation, planting, sowing, and harvesting.

Water Quality Management and Water Scarcity

Synthetic dyes, heavy metals, pesticides, nuclear fuels, pharmaceuticals, inorganic anions and cations, phenols, herbicides, and other aquatic contaminants are capable of contaminating water and need to be kept away from all water sources to maintain high water quality.

Water scarcity is a major concern of the planet, as water needs are not met for 1.2 billion people, while 1.6 billion people suffer from economic water scarcity due to the lack of water storage structures. The lack of water is a global problem that will constantly worsen due to climate change, pollution, and food security. Solutions to this problem can be offered by both the smart agriculture systems mentioned above and smart irrigation systems. In smart irrigation, to have a rational use of water, it is necessary to know the climatic data of the area, as well as data about the quality characteristics of the available water in the area. Water temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, as well as turbidity are some of the water quality characteristics that are widely used in smart irrigation and help farmers make optimal choices.

AI includes a multitude of innovations to optimize groundwater management. The use of predictive models and the utilization of historical data are useful tools to predict groundwater levels, while at the same time, proactive decisions are made to optimally allocate resources. IoT devices and AI algorithms monitor and assess groundwater quality in real-time and enable rapid response to risks from various contaminants and pollutants.

Pre-Harvest and Post-Harvest Agricultural Water Use and Soil Health

Water is a vital resource for agriculture, but it also poses significant challenges for soil health and food safety. Water can be a source of contamination, erosion, nutrient loss, and salinization, affecting the quality and quantity of agricultural products. Moreover, water scarcity and climate change are increasing the pressure on water resources and the need for efficient and sustainable water management practices.

Pre-harvest and post-harvest agricultural water uses refer to the water applied to crops during the growing season and the water used for harvesting, processing, and storing the produce. Both types of water use have different impacts and risks for soil health and food safety, as well as different opportunities and challenges for improvement.

Pre-harvest water use includes irrigation, fertilization, and crop protection sprays. Irrigation is the most common and significant water use in agriculture, accounting for about 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals.8 Irrigation can enhance crop growth and yield, especially in arid and semi-arid regions, but it can also have negative effects on soil health and food safety.

Some of the challenges and risks associated with irrigation are:

  • Microbiological hazards: Irrigation water can be contaminated by pathogens from animal or human fecal sources. These pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and norovirus, can cause foodborne illnesses and outbreaks if they are transferred to the edible parts of the crops or persist in the soil.9 Irrigation water quality and testing are important to prevent and control microbial hazards.10
  • Soil erosion and nutrient loss: Irrigation can cause soil erosion and nutrient loss if the water is applied at a rate or volume that exceeds the soil's infiltration capacity. This can result in run-off, sedimentation, and leaching of nutrients and pesticides into surface and groundwater.11 Soil erosion and nutrient loss can reduce soil fertility, organic matter, and water-holding capacity, affecting crop productivity and quality.12
  • Soil salinization: Irrigation can cause soil salinization if the water contains high levels of salts or if the water evaporates faster than it is drained, leaving behind salt residues in the soil. Soil salinization can reduce soil productivity, crop yield, and crop quality, as well as increase the need for fertilizers and irrigation.13

Some of the advances and opportunities for improving pre-harvest water use are:

  • Drip irrigation: Drip irrigation is a water-saving technique that delivers water directly to the root zone of the crops through pipes or tubes with small holes or emitters. Drip irrigation can reduce water use, evaporation, runoff, erosion, nutrient loss, and weed growth, as well as improve water use efficiency, crop yield, and quality.14 Drip irrigation can also reduce the risk of microbial contamination by minimizing the contact between irrigation water and the edible parts of the crops.15
  • Capturing and storing water: Capturing and storing water is a strategy to collect and conserve rainwater, runoff, or wastewater for agricultural use. Capturing and storing water can increase water availability, reduce water stress, and enhance water security, especially in areas with low or erratic rainfall.16 Capturing and storing water can also reduce the dependence on external water sources, such as groundwater or surface water, which may be contaminated, overexploited, or regulated.17
  • Irrigation scheduling: Irrigation scheduling is a method to determine the optimal timing and amount of irrigation water to apply to the crops based on soil, crop, and weather conditions. Irrigation scheduling can improve water use efficiency, crop growth and yield, and soil health, as well as reduce water waste, run-off, erosion, nutrient loss, and salinization.18 Irrigation scheduling can also reduce the risk of microbial contamination by avoiding irrigation when the crops are close to harvest or when the weather conditions are favorable for pathogen survival and growth.

Post-harvest water use includes water used for washing, cooling, sanitizing, and processing the produce, as well as water used for cleaning and disinfecting the equipment, facilities, and vehicles involved in post-harvest operations. Post-harvest water use can affect the quality and safety of the produce, as well as the environmental impact of the post-harvest activities. Some of the challenges and risks associated with post-harvest water use are:

  • Microbiological hazards: Post-harvest water can be contaminated by pathogens from various sources, such as irrigation water, soil, animals, workers, equipment, or other produce. These pathogens can cause cross-contamination, spoilage, and foodborne illnesses and outbreaks if they are not removed or inactivated by proper washing, cooling, sanitizing, and processing practices.19 Post-harvest water quality and testing are important to prevent and control microbial hazards.20
  • Water consumption and waste: Post-harvest water use can consume large amounts of water, especially for washing and cooling the produce. For example, it is estimated that about 20 liters of water are required to wash 1 kilogram of fresh produce.21 Post-harvest water use can also generate large amounts of wastewater, which may contain organic matter, nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, and other pollutants. These pollutants can affect the quality of the receiving water bodies and pose risks to human and environmental health.22
  • Energy use and emissions: Post-harvest water use can consume significant amounts of energy, especially for cooling, heating, and pumping the water. For example, it is estimated that about 0.5 kWh of energy is required to cool 1 kilogram of fresh produce.23 Post-harvest water use can also generate greenhouse gas emissions, especially from the combustion of fossil fuels to produce the energy needed for water operations. These emissions can contribute to climate change and its impacts on agriculture and water resources.24

Some of the advances and opportunities for improving post-harvest water use include:

  • Water reuse and recycling: Water reuse and recycling are techniques to treat and reuse post-harvest water for the same or different purposes, such as washing, cooling, sanitizing, or irrigation. Water reuse and recycling can reduce water consumption, water stress, and water costs, as well as improve water security and efficiency.25 Water reuse and recycling can also reduce wastewater generation, water pollution, and environmental impact, as well as recover valuable resources, such as nutrients and energy, from the wastewater.26
  • Waterless or low-water technologies: Waterless or low-water technologies are alternatives to water-based post-harvest operations, such as dry cleaning, air cooling, ozone sanitizing, or non-thermal processing. Waterless or low-water technologies can eliminate or minimize the use of water, as well as the associated risks and costs of water contamination, consumption, waste, and energy.27 Waterless or low-water technologies can also improve the quality and safety of the produce, as well as extend its shelf life and marketability.28
  • Water-efficient equipment and practices: Water-efficient equipment and practices are methods to optimize the use of water in post-harvest operations, such as low-flow nozzles, automatic shut-off valves, water meters, or water audits. Water-efficient equipment and practices can reduce water use, water waste, and water costs, as well as improve water use efficiency and performance.29 Water-efficient equipment and practices can also reduce energy use, emissions, and environmental impact, as well as enhance water conservation and sustainability.30

Collaborative improvement between developed and developing countries in agricultural water and soil management is a potential strategy to address the common and specific challenges and opportunities of both groups of countries. Collaborative improvement can involve the exchange of knowledge, technology, resources, and best practices, as well as the development of partnerships, networks, and platforms among different stakeholders, such as farmers, researchers, extension agents, policymakers, and consumers.

Collaborative improvement can aim to achieve the following objectives:

  • Enhance the capacity and awareness of farmers and other stakeholders to adopt and implement water and soil management practices that are suitable, effective, and sustainable for their local conditions and needs.
  • Promote the innovation and adaptation of water and soil management technologies and solutions that are affordable, accessible, and scalable for different contexts and markets.
  • Foster the integration and harmonization of water and soil management policies and regulations that are coherent, consistent, and supportive of the goals and interests of both developed and developing countries.
  • Strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of water and soil management outcomes and impacts that are relevant, reliable, and comparable for both developed and developing countries.

Some of the examples and benefits of collaborative improvement between developed and developing countries in agricultural water and soil management are:

  • The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project is a public-private partnership that aims to develop and disseminate drought-tolerant and insect-resistant maize varieties for SHFs in sub-Saharan Africa. The project involves the collaboration of national agricultural research systems, international research centers, seed companies, and philanthropic foundations from both developed and developing countries. The project has resulted in the release of 24 new maize varieties in six African countries, which have shown an average yield advantage of 20–35 percent over conventional varieties under moderate drought conditions.26
  • The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes the use of bamboo and rattan for sustainable development and environmental conservation. The network involves the collaboration of 47 member states, mostly from developing countries, as well as research institutions, private-sector actors, and civil society organizations from both developed and developing countries. The network has supported the development and dissemination of bamboo and rattan technologies and products for various purposes, such as soil erosion control, water purification, and biomass energy.31

Smallholder Farmers' Crucial Role in Contributing to Food Security

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was quoted as saying, "Many of the problems that you're faced with today are directly linked to the fact that we have failed to recognize the important role of small- and mid-sized farming operations in the survival and the value system of rural communities."32

SMEs play a crucial role in contributing to food security around the world. They have the potential to address various challenges related to climate change, cultural diversity, and the farm-to-fork supply chain. By leveraging their unique strengths and collaborating with various stakeholders, SMEs can make significant contributions to ensuring food security for local communities and beyond:

  • Farmers: SMEs can prioritize sourcing from local farmers, including small-scale and family farms. By doing so, they not only support local agricultural systems but also enhance the livelihoods of SHFs. This collaborative approach fosters a more inclusive and sustainable food system, ensuring a steady supply of nutritious food for the community.
  • Diversification of the food sector: SMEs are often more flexible and adaptable compared to larger corporations. This allows them to diversify the food sector by introducing traditional or niche products based on local cultures and culinary traditions. Such diversity contributes to food security by increasing the availability and accessibility of a wide range of food options.
  • Collaboration and resource-sharing: SMEs can foster collaboration among themselves and with other stakeholders, such as universities, research institutions, and government agencies. This collaboration enables knowledge-sharing, resource-pooling, and joint problem-solving, leading to innovative solutions and improved food security outcomes. Establishing networks and platforms for SMEs to connect and share experiences can further enhance their collective impact.
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation: SMEs can play a vital role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. By implementing sustainable practices in their operations, such as utilizing renewable energy, conserving water, and reducing food waste, they contribute to environmental sustainability. Moreover, SMEs can promote climate-resilient agriculture by supporting local farmers in adopting sustainable and climate-smart techniques that enhance productivity and reduce vulnerability to climate-related risks.
  • Strengthening the farm-to-fork supply chain: SMEs have the potential to improve the efficiency and transparency of the farm-to-fork supply chain. By implementing traceability systems and adopting technologies that enable real-time monitoring, they can ensure the safety and quality of food products. This strengthens consumer trust and confidence, contributing to improved food security.
  • Engaging with cultural diversity: SMEs are well-positioned to promote cultural diversity in the food sector. By honoring and preserving traditional food practices and indigenous knowledge, they contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage. This not only supports local economies but also ensures access to culturally appropriate foods, enhancing food security for diverse populations.

To fully leverage the potential of SMEs in ensuring food security, it is important to create an enabling environment. This includes providing access to financing, technical assistance, and capacity-building programs tailored specifically for SMEs. Government support through policies that promote inclusive and sustainable agriculture can also facilitate the growth and success of SMEs in the food sector.

Materials and Methods Briefing

The lead author of this article virtually met with the contributors and co-authors, shared references and resources, and then discussed the aims and objectives of this research. After preliminary conferences, a straightforward survey was formulated and conducted around the world by the contributors.

Contributors answered 'yes' or 'no,' or 'yes' and 'no.' Insightful comments about their regions and references were written in the surveys. In some cases, 'N/A' was applied, although 'N/A' responses were not tallied in the number of regions.

The surveys were divided into two questions:

  • What are the constraints, limitations, and gaps in the agricultural sector (pre-harvest and post-harvest) for your region?
    • Climate change
    • Water scarcity
    • Crop reduction
    • Soil health challenges
    • Cereal and grain scarcity (reliance on imports)
    • Food insecurity
    • Nutrition insecurity
    • Population growth
    • Geographic disconnect
    • Agriculture job opportunities (or lack thereof)
    • Other significant factors.
  • Are capacity-building programs reaching the smallholder farms in your region that are most in need? What are the challenges/barriers?
    • Inadequate resources
    • Lack of awareness
    • Cultural differences
    • Language barriers
    • Reliance on imported cereal and grain
    • Disconnect among small rural communities, food authorities, and government
    • Geographic barriers: rough terrain, inaccessibility, distance, unknown small farms
    • Small rural farms are unable to communicate their needs
    • Small rural farms have not collectively formed unions/co-ops, etc.
    • Labor shortages
    • Tele-WiFi communication is inadequate
    • Other significant factors.

Results and Discussion

Global constraints for agricultural capacity-building are shown in Figure 1 for the following regions: Africa, Asia, Australia, the Balkans, Central America, the Caribbean, the European Union (EU), South America, and the United States (U.S.).

FIGURE 1.  Bar Graph Showing Global Constraints for Agricultural Capacity-Building in World Regions
Bar Graph Showing Global Constraints for Agricultural Capacity-Building in World Regions

From the data, it was learned that among constraints, limitations, and gaps in the agricultural sector (pre-harvest and post-harvest) for regions:

  • 100 percent of regions indicate that climate change is a major constraint
  • 90 percent of regions indicate that water scarcity is a major constraint
  • 71 percent of regions indicate that crop reduction is a major constraint
  • 71 percent of regions indicate that soil health challenges are a major constraint
  • 75 percent of regions indicate that reliance on imported cereal and grain is a major constraint
  • 70 percent of regions indicate that food insecurity is a major constraint
  • 90 percent of regions indicate that nutrition insecurity (leading to obesity and other health conditions) is a major constraint
  • 60 percent of regions indicate that population growth (age and gender disparity) is a major constraint
  • 35 percent of regions indicate that geographic disconnect is a major constraint
  • 55 percent of regions indicate that lack of agriculture job opportunities is a major constraint
  • 26 percent of regions indicate that other significant factors are a major constraint.

When asked if capacity-building programs are reaching the smallholder farms most in need in their regions, and what challenges/barriers they are facing, survey respondents said:

  • 80 percent of regions indicate that inadequate resources are a major constraint
  • 80 percent of regions indicate that lack of awareness is a major constraint
  • 60 percent of regions indicate that cultural differences are a major constraint
  • 39 percent of regions indicate that language barriers are a major constraint
  • 55 percent of regions indicate that reliance on imported cereal and grain is a major constraint
  • 70 percent of regions indicate that disconnect among small rural communities, food authorities, and government is a major constraint
  • 57 percent of regions indicate that geographic barriers (rough terrain, inaccessibility, distance, etc.) are a major constraint
  • 67 percent of regions indicate that small rural farms being unable to communicate their needs is a major constraint
  • 60 percent of regions indicate that small rural farms not collectively forming unions/co-ops, etc. is a major constraint
  • 70 percent of regions indicate that labor shortages are a major constraint
  • 60 percent of regions indicate that inadequate tele-WiFi communication is a major constraint
  • 33 percent of regions indicate that other significant factors are a major constraint.

Global constraints for agricultural capacity-building are shown in Figure 2 for the following regions and countries: Africa (continent), Australia, the Balkans, Brazil, the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greece, India, Italy, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Tunisia, the U.S., and Vietnam.

FIGURE 2.  Bar Graph Showing Global Constraints for Agricultural Capacity-Building in Select Regions and Countries
Bar Graph Showing Global Constraints for Agricultural Capacity-Building in Select Regions and Countries

Conclusion and Recommendations

Research on FSMS implementation explored the constraints, limitations, challenges, and gaps that hinder SHFs and agri-food processors from implementing (and thereby benefiting) from CBPs. The FSMS analysis paralleled the CBP analysis.

From the case studies that were carried out, several recommendations and takeaways can be drawn:

  • Strengthening regulatory frameworks: Governments and regulatory bodies can enhance food safety regulations and establish rigorous standards across the globe. This would ensure that food production, processing, and distribution adhere to consistent safety standards. By providing clear guidelines and enforcing stricter inspections, the risk of foodborne illnesses can be reduced.
  • Increasing access to training and education: Promoting and providing food safety training and education programs to food handlers, farmers, and food business operators would enhance their knowledge and understanding of safe practices. With improved awareness, stakeholders can implement better FSMSs, reduce the incidence of contamination, and improve overall food safety.
  • Enhancing traceability systems: Implementing advanced traceability systems, such as blockchain technology and electronic data interchange, can improve transparency and traceability throughout the food supply chain. This would allow rapid identification and containment of any potential safety issues, minimizing the impact on consumers and the risk of widespread outbreaks.
  • Investing in research and development: Increased investment in research and development can lead to the development of innovative technologies and methodologies for food safety. This could include improved packaging materials, novel preservation techniques, and more efficient pathogen detection methods. These advancements would support the prevention of foodborne illnesses and reduce food waste.
  • Promoting collaboration between stakeholders: Collaboration among food safety agencies, industry associations, and international organizations can foster knowledge-sharing, standardization, and the exchange of best practices. By working together, stakeholders can address common challenges, share resources, and improve the overall safety and quality of the global food supply.
  • Supporting SMEs: Fostering an environment that supports SMEs is crucial for global food safety and sustainability. Providing financial incentives, technical assistance, and regulatory guidance can help these enterprises meet food safety standards and guidelines. Supporting these enterprises can also contribute to local economies, improve food security, and promote sustainable agricultural practices.
  • These opportunities for improvement in global food safety, food security, and food sustainability highlight the importance of cross-sector collaborations, technological advancements, and CBPs. By addressing these areas, we can collectively work toward a safer and more sustainable global food system.

Some examples of FSMS implementation in developing countries include:

  • In Kenya, a small-scale dairy cooperative implemented a FSMS based on HACCP principles and ISO 22000 requirements, with the assistance of the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB). The FSMS helped the cooperative improve its milk quality, reduce wastage, increase market access, and enhance customer satisfaction.1
  • In Thailand, a small-scale dried banana producer adopted a FSMS based on GMPs and HACCP standards, with the support of the Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) and the National Food Institute (NFI). The FSMS enabled the producer to comply with the domestic and export market requirements, increase production efficiency, reduce costs, and gain a competitive advantage.2
  • In India, a medium-sized spice processing company implemented a FSMS based on FSSC 22000 and ISO 9001 standards, with the guidance of the Spices Board of India and the Export Inspection Council of India. The FSMS helped the company improve its product quality, traceability, and safety, as well as meet the expectations of the international buyers.33

Ensuring food safety is vital for the health and well-being of individuals worldwide. However, developing countries often face challenges in maintaining food hygiene and implementing effective FSMSs. This article explored opportunities for developed countries to support developing nations in addressing these issues, including resource exchange, traceability implementation, governance, and capacity-building:

  • Resource exchange: Developed countries can facilitate resource-exchange programs to support developing nations in improving food hygiene practices. This could involve providing technical expertise, sharing best practices, and offering training programs on FSMSs. Collaborative partnerships can enhance the capacities of SMEs in developing countries to meet international food safety standards.
  • Capacity-building: Developed countries can assist in capacity-building efforts, such as providing training and education to stakeholders in developing countries. This support can include workshops, seminars, and conferences focused on food safety management, HACCP, and GMPs.
  • Traceability implementation: Developed countries can assist developing nations in implementing traceability systems for their food supply chains. These systems enable the identification and tracking of products throughout the production process, improving transparency and reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Developed countries can share their experiences, technologies, and regulatory frameworks to help developing nations establish and maintain reliable traceability systems.
  • Governance and regulation: Developed countries can support developing nations in strengthening their food safety governance and regulatory frameworks. This could involve assisting in the development of effective food safety legislation, standards, and guidelines based on international best practices. Sharing experiences and providing technical assistance can enhance the regulatory capacity of developing countries, leading to improved food safety management.
  • Knowledge exchange: Developed countries can promote knowledge-exchange platforms and networks to facilitate the sharing of food safety information and experiences. This can enable developing nations to benefit from the expertise of developed countries and learn from successful case studies. Online platforms, forums, and collaboration initiatives can foster global cooperation and knowledge transfer in the field of food safety.

Furthermore, opportunities for collaborative improvements in the agriculture sector (pre-harvest and post-harvest of fresh/frozen fruit, vegetables, and herbs) among developed countries and developing countries include:

  • Sharing best practices and experiences in implementing FSMSs across different regions and sectors, such as GMPs, PRPs, and HACCP.
  • Providing technical assistance and training to SMEs in developing countries to improve their food safety culture, management leadership, resources, and technological adequacy.
  • Developing and harmonizing international standards and regulations for food safety and quality, as well as facilitating the certification and accreditation processes for SMEs in developing countries.
  • Promoting the benefits of FSMS implementation for SMEs in developing countries, such as improved product quality, customer satisfaction, market access, competitiveness, and profitability.
  • Enhancing collaboration and communication among stakeholders, such as government agencies, industry associations, research institutions, and consumers, to foster a supportive and enabling environment for food safety and security.

These opportunities can help address the major constraints and challenges faced by SMEs in developing countries, such as lack of awareness, knowledge, skills, motivation, infrastructure, equipment, finance, and incentives for FSMS implementation. They can also help achieve global food safety and security goals, as well as the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production).


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Jocelyn C. Lee is a Food Safety Consultant at GRS Inc., Gourmet In Motion. She is a SQFI and HACCP-HARPC Coordinator, and is certified in CFSPM, CFSC, and FSPCQI by the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California–Davis, the American National Standards Institute, and the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals.

Sofia Agriopoulou, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in the Department Food Science and Technology at the University of Peloponnese.

Theodoros Varzakas, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Peloponnese in Kalamata, Greece.

List of Contributors (in alphabetical order by region and/or country)

Ajay Shah, Australia

Veselina Pelagic, Balkans, Serbia

Dejana Kulesevic, Balkans, Serbia

Carla Otsuki, Brazil

Marva Hewitt, Caribbean, Jamaica

Devi Yankataso, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago

Mario Echandi-Bachtold, Central America, Mexico

Desta Tamene Letik, Ethiopia

Sofia Agriopoulou, EU, Greece

Theodoros Varzakas, EU, Greece

Joshua Owiredu, Ghana

Pranesh Badami, India

Abdul Moiz, Italy

Saint Yi Htet, Myanmar

Solomon Olusanya Oyeniran, Nigeria

Francis Watson Arambu, Peru

Juan Luis Camere, Peru

Justice Bhekizulu Sifelani, South Africa

Hrabi Nouredine, Tunisia

Jocelyn Lee, U.S., California

Andrew Courts, U.S., North Carolina

Jonathan Needham, U.S., South Carolina

John Lamb, U.S. and Africa

John Duffill, Vietnam