GIS:-Agriculturists Attend A Series of Training Sessions on Banana Quality Standards in Preparation for Export Later this Year.
Farmers and technical officers associated with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Banana Productivity Improvement Project, have undergone a series of training sessions.
Project Manager Mr. Kerde Severin, said the training sessions are key to providing a superior product.
“We are working very closely with the banana companies. Every week we meet with Winfresh, NFTO, and TQFC on a bi-weekly basis, and we discuss all the issues, the areas of collaboration, and the areas that need to be beefed up. We discuss how we can get farmers to be more productive, and how to improve the quality of the fruit shipped to the UK. One of the things we have agreed is to have what we call one common standard. So the quality of the fruit we produce for Massy Stores should be the same as what we ship to the UK; and the quality of the fruit we send to Barbados or Trinidad or Antigua should be the same, therefore there shouldn’t be any difficulty for a farmer to transition from one market to the other.”
The sessions educate farmers and agriculture officers on maintaining a common standard that adheres to general market regulations, and also serves to certify farmers who meet those regulations.
“When the project started, the first thing we did as part of the orientation program for the officers was to bring in Winfresh and the certification body to train our staff so they can understand what the market requirements are. We do the same for farmers: before a farmer can be certified there is a process, and this is where our officers along with Winfresh representatives, and the team from the certification program come together to conduct this training.
“The sessions are ongoing thing and we’re hoping that next year as we move into the second year of the project, that we can expand on some of the subject areas.”
The training sessions cover proper packaging practices, how to maintain the quality of the fruit, care for the fruit, and other aspects of post-harvest handling.
Along with quality standards training, the farmers liaise regularly with the extension officers in order to increase their production to the targeted 15 tons per acre.