JIS News

Eighty persons involved in banana production in St. Mary were trained in the areas of safe food handling and proper personal hygiene, at a workshop sponsored by the Banana Export Company held at the new Covenant Ministry Church in High Gate recently.
The workshop was staged as part of the effort to ensure that the banana industry meets the standards required by the European market.
Included in the group were packers, supervisors and owners of banana farms in the parish. Training in the two areas as well as in others critical to the operation of the banana industry form part of an important set of criteria the local banana industry must satisfy in order to achieve Global Gap Certification. This certification is necessary to prove that the industry is operating at the required international standards.
In all, the industry has to meet 266 criteria in order to receive the certification for which auditing will be done in April.
The training was conducted by Andrea Hardware, Public Health Inspector at the St. Mary Health Department. Among the areas of emphasis were safe food handling, contamination prevention, personal hygiene and the safe and proper way to use chemicals and pesticides.
In addition to the importance of strict adherence to personal hygiene and safety standards on banana farms, the workshop also placed emphasis on a number of critical responsibilities which must be undertaken by banana producers, including the provision of adequate and proper toilet facilities for workers; the provision of protective equipment for workers; and the installation of hand- washing facilities in the packing areas of farms.
Speaking to JIS News, Mrs. Hardware said the participants responded well to the training, as the high level of enthusiasm they displayed was an indication of how well they appreciated the experience.
She also expressed confidence that the knowledge gained at the workshop will go a far way in enabling the operators and workers of banana farms to conform to the expectations of the international market and maintain the viability of Jamaican banana on that market.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clifton Wilson Special Projects Coordinator for the Banana Export Company gave the assurance that his organization will be working assiduously with banana farmers to ensure that the industry conforms to international standards. He asserted that he was confident that the industry would survive the challenges with which it is confronted, to continue to be a major contributor to the development of the economy.

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