700 farmers in Essex Valley to benefit from global gap training

700 farmers in Essex Valley to benefit from global gap training

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Seven hundred farmers who operate in the Essex Valley region of St Elizabeth will benefit from training towards enabling them to achieve Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

The training is part of the Essex Valley Agriculture Development Project (EVADP), which aims to enhance the production and productivity of farmers in a sustainable, climate-sensitive manner, while improving their livelihood.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, said that Global GAP certification is critical to the growth and sustainability of the local agriculture sector.

The international certification was developed to ensure that farm produce meets required food safety standards, while minimising the detrimental environmental impacts of farming operations.

Spence said that certification to the standard will make local farmers more competitive globally, thereby increasing the country's agricultural exports.

“We (Jamaica) cannot compete internationally without being fully certified,” he said at the Global GAP consultancy meeting at The Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston recently.

“[I hope] that it becomes the norm that our farmers — big, medium and small — are certified and are in a place where they are prepared to take on the world and the national economy in terms of guaranteeing and ensuring that the …produce that we are consuming [is] safe, traceable and can stand up to quality scrutiny from anywhere around the world,” he added.

The EVADP is being implemented through partnership between the ministry and Global GAP. It is being funded through a grant from the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), which is administered by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Elements of the project include provision of Enhanced Agricultural Production and Marketing Facilities and Systems (EAPMFS); training of farmers and other stakeholders in food safety standards and climate-smart agriculture; and development of off-farm irrigation infrastructure such as wells, pumps and pipe distribution networks, to supply water to approximately 700 hectares of agricultural land.

Other components are energy efficiency/renewable energy, including design and construction of a photovoltaic plant to power the irrigation system and administrative buildings; and allocation and/or purchase of approximately 14 acres of land to accommodate the photovoltaic plant, administrative buildings, and pumps.

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