| Azlan Othman |
THE Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) through the Biosecurity Section emphasised on the importance of food safety for the agricultural and fisheries sector to prevent diseases and pests from destroying it.
This was highlighted by Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Hjh Hasnah binti Hj Ibrahim after officiating the public awareness seminar on ‘Biosecurity’ and BruQis (Brunei Quarantine Information System) yesterday.
“Often discussed at both national and international levels, biosecurity plays a vital role as it ensures that foods from agricultural and fishery sources are free from exotic diseases and safe for consumption, regardless of whether they are produced locally or are imported/exported.
“Importers and exporters are urged not to import products deemed dangerous to human safety that also includes the agricultural and fisheries products. This is crucial in assisting the government to prevent the spread of diseases through such products.
“They should ensure that products from agricultural farms are approved by the Competent Authority of the exporting country.
Livestock commodities must be free from exotic diseases that could threaten the development of the livestock industry and public health in the country.
“If the content of chemical pesticides exceeds the limit in fruits and vegetables or antibiotics are misused for treatment and enlarging livestock, it would affect public health if taken for a prolonged period of time,” she highlighted.
The government has incurred high expenditure to eradicate diseases or pests such as citrus greening disease in citrus crop and white spot disease in prawns. To recover an area or to free a zone from diseases will take time. For instance, the Health Authority (OIE) needs to conduct surveillance for about two years on diseases that could destroy crops or livestock.
“Importers and individuals should abide by sanitation and phytosanitary procedures.
“We have also been successful in the ‘Engagement of a Consultant for the Establishment of Plant and Animal Quarantine Services and Facilities in Brunei Darussalam’ under the 9th National Development Plan including a website database known as BruQis (Brunei Quarantine Information System).
“This functions as a reference source for inspecting officers when examining imported agricultural consignments found to have developed symptoms of possible diseases in crops and livestock. Such a database would enhance the efficiency of inspection and capability in storing current import and export data of agricultural commodities effectively,” she said.
The one-day seminar highlighted topics on ‘Plant and Animal Health and Food Safety in the Global Trading Environment’; ‘The Formation of Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (MAQIS)’; ‘BioSecurity in Singapore’ and ‘The Consultancy on the Establishment of Animal and Plant Quarantine Services and Facilities in Brunei Darussalam’.
Brunei Darussalam imported some 41 per cent ($13.22 million) vegetables and 79 per cent ($23 million) fruits while livestock such as buffaloes and cattles reached high import levels totalling 98 per cent ($28.13 million) and fish ($4.58 million) last year.