IICA and PISLM host stakeholder consultation on agricultural health and food safety

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM) concluded a successful stakeholder consultation on initial findings on Agricultural Health and Food Safety at the National Development Foundation of Dominica’s (NDFD) Conference Room on Wednesday January 27th 2021. The consultation forms part of a suite of activities geared toward developing and supporting initiatives to improve farming practices and certify farmers nationally. The global trade in food and the consequential international concerns about the safety and quality of food traded internationally means Dominica has to establish and implement national food safety control systems that ensures the quality and safety of local food production and agricultural export

This project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP and executed by PISLM. The consultation contributes to the overarching objectives of the UNEP projects to establish an integrated SLM model that includes agricultural, forestry and natural resources management practices that directly generate development and environmental benefits in Dominica.

In addition to the SLM, the project is expected to support the Dominica Bureau of Standards (DBOS) in advancing its “Draft Generic Manual on Quality Management System for horticultural farmers in Dominica to attain internationally recognized certification for fresh produce exports” as well as towards the development of a national farm certification programme, Dominica Good Agricultural Practices (DOMGAP). The national DOMGAP, is expected to provide the requisite technical assistance to the beneficiary farms in meeting the local standard requirements. The DOMGAP pilot program endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture is focused on 40 farmers across 5 parishes

Dr. Davidson Lloyd is the contracted consultant for Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS), to evaluate and assess the current status of the draft Generic Manual QMS, and suggest the best approach in meeting a national DOMGAP standard which could easily transcend into meeting the international Global Gap standards.

The consultation commenced with remarks from PISLM National Project Manager, Alison Alfred and Kent Coipel Technical Specialist, IICA Dominica. Present were representatives of key stakeholders: Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture, and National Food Security, DEXIA, DAIC, DBOS, Farmers, Exporters, Environmental Health Unit, CARDI and NDFD.

Mr. Median Laroque, Director of the DBOS gave an informative presentation on the Bureau’s implementation of the DOMGAP certification program thus far and emphasized the importance of building awareness to gain compliance from farmers.

The presentation of initial findings was spear headed by Dr. Lloyd along with his associates Dr. Steve John who presented a Comprehensive Study of Farm Certification and Mr. Errol Emanuel who gave a review of the Agricultural Export Structure and Farm Assessments. A key takeaway from these initial assessments was challenges in production and quantity of supply which impacts Dominica capacity to consistently meet market demands. As denoted by one of the team consultants who stated that while quality is not an issue, in fact Dominican produce is preferred, however there is definitely a need for increased production to reliably supply these markets.

The findings highlighted a situational analysis of the National Farm Inspection and Certification programme Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) currently being implemented by the DBOS including analysis of the market situation regarding access and requirements for food safety and certification of fresh produce and trade implications.

According to the consultants, the standardization and compliance with the DOMGAP as the primary farm inspection and certification programme is essential for bolstering agricultural production and export capabilities.

Additionally, the consultants disclosed that the DBOS National Farm Inspection & Certification Programme requires significant strengthening to ensure the viability of the fresh produce supply out of Dominica and thus consistent market penetration across all spheres.

Representative stakeholders all engaged in discussion on the findings presented, providing insight from their respective fields and contributing to recommendations for improvement.  A business owner who purchases fresh produce for export stated “farmers must be part of the discussion leading to decision making to achieve the results we want.”

(IICA) was engaged by the (PISLM) through a Letter of Agreement towards the implementation Agriculture specific components of a projects titled “Sustainable Land Management in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Strengthening Resilience of Agricultural Lands and Forests in Dominica”. The objective of this collaboration is to increase the number of farmers utilizing Sustainable Land Management (SLM) mechanisms in agriculture, improved production quality leading to farm certification and improved market accessibility. The projects will support on the ground pilot SLM measures and capacity building related to agricultural production.

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