Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 12th 2015 Contents 7
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) are a set of
codes, standards, and guidelines that apply to on-
farm production, and post production processes.
They prevents entry of microbial, chemical and
physical hazards into the food chain and supports
performance checks of agricultural and post-har-
vest practices. In GAPs, the critical control points
that must be monitored fall within:
• 1. Site management
• 2. Planting materials
• 3. Soil management, and fertiliser use
• 4. Water and Irrigation
• 5. Plant Protection Products
• 6. Harvesting
• 7. Produce handling
• 8. Worker's health, safety and welfare
• 9. Waste and pollution management
• 10. Environnemental conservation
For a simple check on maintaining food safety
through Good Agriculture Practices, try the test in
the box "Are you are a food safe producer? Some
Control Points for Good Agriculture Practices."
WORKING TOGETHER ON
GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES
The National Agricultural Marketing Development
Corporation operates a GAPs certification scheme.
Nine hundred and sixty five farmers are trained and
certified as compliant with NAMDEVCO's GAP pro-
tocol. NAMDEVCO assists the GAP compliant
farmer to maintain an effective control system by
supporting the farmer through:
• Site inspection: advice on layout, storage, soil,
water requirements, pesticide management
• Record control; training and assistance with good
record keeping system
• Traceability; the NAMDEVCO pack house provides
an identification process to trace product harvest
• Complaint handling: NAMDEVCO captures prob-
lems at the pack house. It captures buyers' com-
plaints and recommends ways the farmer can
avoid the problem in the future
• Withdrawal of product: NAMDEVCO, through its
partnership with testing services, can remove and
dispose of products with high levels of contamination
The next phase of NAMDEVCO's GAP certifica-
tion scheme is to upgrade the current GAP protocol
to a nationally accepted protocol, leading to recogni-
tion at the international level.
Working with the Food and Agriculture Organiza-
tion of the United Nations (FAO) on a quality man-
agement system for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable
sub sector of Trinidad and Tobago, the NAMDEVCO
intervention will prepare an interim strategy for en-
hancing food quality for fresh fruits and vegetables.
This intervention complements public health goals
to limit health risks transmitted from farm to con-
sumer. In the area of food safety, FAO plays a critical
role in institutional capacity for food control and
food safety management, including the manage-
ment of food safety emergencies.
FAO and World Health Organization/Pan Ameri-
can Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) closely col-
laborate on the topic of food safety., The Codex
Alimentarius is the joint FAO/WHO international
food standard-setting body.
For future business survival, small family farms
must comply with food safety standards. For fresh
and manufactured food exports to the United
States of America, the US Food Safety Moderniza-
tion Act (FSMA, 2010) demands that the processes
from farm to fork satisfy quality checks and provide
consistent evidence of appropriate risk based man-
By working with partners in agriculture, the
NAMDEVCO , FAO and PAHO hope to support a
food safety strategy revolving around the Good
Agriculture Practices so that food-borne illnesses
derived from the farm will be significantly reduced.
ARE YOU A FOOD SAFE PRODUCER?
Farmers, do you know how safe the food that you supply
is? How well are you doing to manage food safety
hazards? Try this test. For every question, if you answer
"NO," score one (1) point, for every "YES" answer score
two points. [1= NO, 2= YES]
• Site Management (Farm Hygiene)
Keeping your farm hygienic is essential for production of safe products.
By putting up a display on general hygiene instructions, workers and
anyone else who comes to the farm can always be reminded to keep
the farm hygienic.
• Does the farm have hygiene instructions?
• Have all workers on the farm received basic training on the farm's
• Are visitors to the farm aware of the farm hygiene instructions?
• Soil, fertiliser and water
• Are fertilisers stored separate from fresh produce?
• Has the farm' irrigation water been tested?
• Is the use of drainage or sewer water for irrigation banned on the farm?
• Do you record the application of fertilisers?
• Plant protection products
Chemical application is not the only way to protect your plants. There
are many things you can do to prevent and to control pests and
diseases on your farm without using chemicals. Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) is not about organic farming. It is a way to
prevent, monitor and control pests and diseases on your farm with the
combination of biological, mechanical and chemical methods.
• If you apply a plant protection product, do you follow the label
recommendations of quantity per litre of spray?
• Are workers equipped with suitable personal protective equipment?
• Are plant protection products stored in a sound and secure location?
• Are all plant protection products stored in their original packing?
• Is re-use of plant protection product containers banned on your farm?
• Are surplus mix, tank washings, and pesticide containers disposed in
a manner that avoids contamination of water courses and the
• Harvesting and produce handling
Personal hygiene is critical especially at harvesting, because the
workers will be in direct contact with the produce. If they are sick, if
their hands are dirty, or if they wear big jewelry, harvested produce
could be contaminated or damaged. At harvesting, anything that gets
into a direct contact with produce should be kept clean.
• Are containers kept clean and used only for produce (not for
transporting other things)?
• Are Tools (knives, scissors, gloves etc.) kept clean and disinfected?
• Are Vehicles cleaned regularly?
• Are hands kept clean by having access to clean toilets and hand
• If you are packing your produce, do you ensure that packing and
storing conditions for the packaging materials are hygienic? If you
pack produce into cartons, directly in the field, whether for export, or
for a domestic buyer, do you keep packaging materials under hygienic
• If you are packing your produce at a pack house, do you comply with
the hygiene requirements of the pack house?.
• Before packing, do you sort the produce according to a quality criteria?
• Do you keep packed produce at a clean place under shade? (If you
keep them directly on the soil, under the sun or leave them overnight,
they could get contaminated and the quality will deteriorate.)
• If you use water to wash the produce or use ice to pack the produce,
do you use potable water?
Results: how did you do?
• Score of 35-44: Congratulations!. This means that you are doing well.
Keep up the good work and continually seek areas of improvement.
• Score of 23-34: Good Job! Do you see areas where you can improve
food safety? Try correcting at least one area over the next 3 months
and contact NAMDEVCO for assistance
• Score of 0 - 22. You are trying. Your score means that there are
several ways that you can improve. Do you see areas where you can
improve food safety? Try correcting at least one area over the next 3
months and contact NAMDEVCO for assistance.
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 12, 2015
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