Farmers learn about new FDA guidelines for export

Farmers at MNIB training

by Linda Straker

A cross-section of farmers who are major suppliers of fresh and raw produce are now properly informed about the importance of proper record keeping as part of farm management, and why failure to keep records can negatively affect their livelihood.

The Marketing and National Importing Board in collaboration with the Ridge to Reef Project pulled together farmers who are suppliers of raw and fresh produce, where they were trained in Good Agricultural practices with a focus on food safety standards and quality in fresh produce.

“Record keeping is the most important tool of evidence, as you undergo an inspection or an audit,” said Head of the Grenada IICA office, Derek Charles.

“As this is new to many of you, it will not be easy, but you need to adjust as this will be important to your very survival in this industry,” he said, while explaining that Good Agricultural Practices are not just important to farmers who supply the market, but also to the consumer who wants to know what they are consuming.

“These practices address environmental, economic and social sustainability for farm processes, and can result in safe and quality food,” he told farmers in the seminar, while explaining that US Food Modernisation legislation provides for importers to have an explicit responsibility to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place, to ensure that the food they produce is safe.

Roderick St Clair of the MNIB explained that principles and practices of good agricultural practices are an emerging global norm, as customers are demanding more knowledge about the source of the food they are consuming.

“And this is where suppliers like you come in — you as farmers supply to us, and we supply to the US market, so in order for all of us to benefit we need to comply with the Good Agricultural practice standards that are being enforced in our export markets,” he said.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act mandates that farmers producing raw and fresh produce adopt practices to reduce the risk of unsafe products. MNIB exports to the USA, and it is, for this reason, the farmers have to undergo the training which culminated with a self-assessment to be conducted by all farmers who participated.

Since 1998 the Grenada Government approved the “Exportation of Fresh Produce” legislation which provides for a license to be granted for exporters of fresh and raw produce from the Bureau if Standards.

This legislation provides for the Grenada Bureau of Standards to be the official agency for issuing licenses to all exporters of fresh produce. Recently, the Bureau called a meeting of all exporters and reminded them of the enforcement of the legislation. The Bureau now has to inspect all packing houses of exporters before a license is granted.

An exporter who fails to obtain a license and export fresh produce can be charged EC$10,000 on summary conviction.

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