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Story Highlights

  • Nine agro-exporters have received approximately $10 million in grants from the Government
  • 12 farmers trained under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) pilot programme
  • The Ministry of Health has certified 200 farmers and 20 members of the Ministry's FSMA Committee in safe food handling practices

Nine agro-exporters have received approximately $10 million in grants from the Government to assist in efforts to upgrade their facilities, in order to become compliant with the United States Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The presentations were made on July 30, at a function held at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew.

During the function, 12 farmers, who were trained under the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) pilot programme, were presented with certificates and food handler’s permits.

The GAPs programme, being undertaken in collaboration with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), is benefitting farmers involved in the cultivation of yams, hot pepper, pumpkin and callaloo.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, said measures are being put in place to ensure that sufficient quantities of safe food are available and that Jamaica meets global food safety requirements.

“It is important that all of us understand food safety quality management systems. These systems include GAPs, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and others that are germane to our food security and capacity to trade,” he said.

He informed that overall, 200 farmers have been trained under GAPs and another 5,000 have been sensitised regarding local food safety standards and the new FSMA. He said that to date, JSIF has allocated over $27 million to build capacity for farmers and other stakeholders.

Additionally, he informed, the Ministry of Health has certified 200 farmers and 20 members of the Ministry’s FSMA Committee in safe food handling practices.

“Food safety is everybody’s responsibility and I wish to laud the work of our farmers and exporters for their commitment and entrepreneurial acumen, in providing safe food for our populace and to safeguard our exports to the United States and other markets,” Minister Clarke said.

He reiterated the Government’s commitment to providing safe food for the nation and to safeguard the country’s exports.

“We will do this by strengthening our policy, institutional and regulatory framework and provide technical support. Working together, we will achieve high levels of food safety in Jamaica and be globally competitive,” he stated.

The Agriculture Minister commended the other stakeholders, who have been instrumental in building the country’s food safety mechanisms. These include: the FSMA National Task Force; the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA); the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In her remarks, General Manager with responsibility for Communications, JSIF, Rhonda Lumsden-Lue, said that her agency is pleased to support programmes that sustain the over-arching national goal of reducing imports, increasing exports and improving the quality of output from farmers.

The FSMA requires the implementation of more stringent food safety control systems by foreign suppliers of food to the United States.