Over 5,000 persons will be trained in good agricultural practices (GAP) for exporting to the US markets.
Fifty-four persons are being trained by the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) to in turn, guide 5,200 farmers in GAP under the US Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
"Train the trainer" workshop is a joint project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MOAF) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under its Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI).
The REDI and MOAF project also involves training of 120 Extension officers, middlemen and exporters and plant quarantine Officers.
The revision of the FSMA guidelines in 2011 by the United States, a major export market for Jamaica, means that all exporters must demonstrate that their food is safe.
But, Stephannie Hutchinson-Ffrench, JSIF project manager of REDI said that the training doesn't stop at the exporters. "Farmers who cultivate the fruits and vegetables must demonstrate that they have the correct systems in place," she said. "It starts with them maintaining good hygeine, and reducing and preventing any contamintation of the produce."
It's not only about what is directly exported, it also has to do with the food chain of the tourism sector, she said.
JSIF is to spend almost $49 million — sourced from the World Bank — to provide technical assistance and training.
"From food to fork" will look at what should be done on the farms to ensure that it reaches the consumer disease free.
Each facility is required to be registered, with certified post-harvest facilities. They must be able to demonstrate the source of their commodities, that is, traceability, Ffrench said.
With respect to chemical hazards, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke recalled that two years ago several yam shipments were detained and rejected for pesticide levels exceeding the maximum residue levels (MRL's) set by the US authorities.
This represented a loss of over $41million to several of our exporters, he said.
Exporters, farmers and representatives of the Food Storage and Infestation Division, Bureau of Standards, Ministry of Health, Pesticides Control Authority and the Scientific Research Council (SRC) are among the targeted individuals who will receive training.