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JIS News

The island’s banana producers are undergoing an intensive programme of preparation to meet the certification standards under the European Union Retail Parties Good Agricultural Practices (EUREPGAP) system.
Director of Research at the Banana Industry Board, Janet Coney, told JIS News, that the programme of preparation included improving farm practices, documentation procedures, and “generally trying to bring about a culture change of farmers as it relates to audit and certification”.
According to Ms. Coney, the banana industry has been in preparation to meet the EUREPGAP standards for sometime and come March and April this year, an audit of some 50 farms would be carried out by the international certifying body.
“Certification at the moment is not for all farms because it requires a great deal of infrastructural change as well as a high level of technology and husbandry,” she explained, noting that an additional 50 farms would be added to the programme come 2008.
As part of the Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) exporting nations, Jamaica has access to a number of European markets including the United Kingdom.
However, to continue to access these markets, farmers are required to meet some 200 standards relating to safety, quality assurance and sustainability in agricultural practices, in keeping with the EUREPGAP system.
Most of these standards must be in place, however in a few years, producers will be required to meet all 200 standards and the EU Banana Support Programme is providing assistance in the process.
Meanwhile, in giving an update on the Moko disease, which affected the island banana producers between 2004 and 2005, the Banana Industry Board Director revealed that since the emergence of the disease in St. James, the relevant authorities have taken steps to eliminate the problem and since then, none of the affected farms have reported a resurgence.
However, she pointed out that although the problem was eliminated in some parishes, there were reports of the disease in some 20 farms in western Jamaica in 2005. She said eradication measures were carried out on all 20 farms, however there was a re-occurrence on two of the treated farms.
“The disease re-occurred on the two farms because the farmers replanted the field before the recommended one year period,” she explained.
She told JIS News that the Moko disease in recent times, has only been found in St. James and those farms on which the disease was identified, have already been treated.