'Production of natural products set to explode'

Official urges manufacturers to observe proper harvesting practices

BY ANIKA RICHARDS Observer staff reporter richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

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ACTING Director, Emergency, Disaster Preparedness and Special Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Sonia Copeland on Sunday urged people involved in the manufacturing of natural products to ensure that they are aware of and are observing proper harvesting and production practices to meet international standards.

Dr Copeland said the production of natural products is set to explode and that they should be ready.

She was speaking at an event to recognise the first Natural Health Awareness Day held at the Michi Super Centre in Kingston by former Third World band member Irvin 'Carrot' Jarrett, now a naturopathic holistic health practitioner, and his wife, Alisia.

"Now that policies are changing... [we are] looking at how we can make it easier for growers and for those who do the production of natural products," Dr Copeland said. "It is important that you know what is required so that you can have your things registered, not just for us in Jamaica, but for... the world."

She admitted that the changes that are now happening, like the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act, have been a long time coming.

"We have to make sure, and am telling you, you have to be ready, because there is going to be an explosion," she insisted. "We have to be ready so the growth and harvesting practices and the manufacturing processes are being observed.

"Imagine how a potential exporter felt when he got a big order for noni, and when they were ready they realised that it had too many contaminants," Dr Copeland reiterated. "So you have to be informed from the field to the final product, you have to make sure you are observing good harvesting practices and good manufacturing practices, so that the quality of what we have at the end can be accepted wherever."

Dr Copeland also reminded those at the event that observing ancestral practices should not be discarded, because this also adds credence to when things are to be harvested to yield the best crop.

"There are special times to harvest some things and some persons have not been observing that," said Dr Copeland. "And therefore, unfortunately, when they harvest, that's when there are alot of parasites and a lot of things that are undesireable."

Dr Copeland also endorsed the event and pledged her support for the initiative.

"It is a good time for us to take heart, those of us who have been there for so long, that finally, we are recognisng that we do have green gold in Jamaica," said Dr Copeland. "To the Jarretts who have conceived this idea, you can't stop now, we want to encourage you to just go at it because everybody is ready for it, and there are persons who have tried everything and it hasn't worked. And they are really looking to natural products to help them enjoy better health."

"We are behind you Carrot, we are beside you, we are before you," Dr Copeland said.

The vision for Natural Health Awareness Day in Jamaica is for it to become an annual day which will seek to educate and raise awareness of Jamaica's natural foods and herb that can be used as medicine and to expose the existing natural health services and therapies for the mind, body and spirit such as yoga, meditation and reflexology, among others.

And judging by the large audience who turned out to support the event, Jamaicans appear to be eager to learn all they can about the benefits to be had from natural products as well as how best to use the hebs at their disposal.

One attendee told the Jamaica Observer that the minute she heard about it she knew she had to attend, while another said she was on her way to the supermarket when she saw the gathering.

The activities at the event included a panel discussion as well as several booths which were set up to provide information on different natural health products and services and their benefits. Scores of participants were observed with notepads in hand, trying to amass all the information they could.

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