Twenty-five agriculture industry personnel including exporters, pack-house operators and farmers are set to receive training in post-harvest treatment and handling and packaging of dasheen and other roots and tubers.
This is the second in a series of workshops titled ‘Strengthening the capacity of agro-processors, farmers, and exporters on processing and packaging technology specific to their operations: emphasis on roots and tubers.’
The two-day workshop, which begins on Wednesday, is to be held at the Dominica Export Import Agency’s (DEXIA) packhouse in Roseau.
The first workshop in this series focused on identifying and recommending suitable packaging materials for agro-products.
This workshop aims to improve the skills and knowledge of key stakeholders in conforming to the commodity standards for dasheen and other roots and tubers.
Representative for the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Dorian Etienne, said that this workshop is timely because of the complaints made by farmers of the low sale of dasheen and other roots and tubers.
“In context of our food import bill, at the level that it is, there is the urgent need that Dominica has the capacity to produce a portion of the food that is required for domestic consumption and also for export and so strengthening the capacities for agriculture production and processing within an environment that facilitates timely dissemination and effective adoption of appropriate technology is critical to realizing that need,” he said.
Etienne noted that the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and CARDI will continue to collaborate to deliver the expected results of the Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) which is being implemented by IICA and executed by CARDI.
IICA representative, Kent Coipel, explained that the APP has three components; component one deals with policy and strategies and managed by CARIFORUM/CARICOM; component two deals with issue of research and transfer of technology and is managed and implemented by CARDI while component three deals with enterprise development and is managed by IICA.
“The programme is really to strengthen persons involved in agriculture as well as agriculture business itself…we are linking all the components; that is why as much as possible the programmes that we are doing are complimentary to each other.”
This programme is funded under the 10th European Development Fund and is executed through a contribution agreement signed between the European Union and IICA.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Harold Guiste, said Government is committed to working with farmers to ensure they meet the required post-harvest standards.
“The Ministry is committed to working with DEXIA, Bureau of Standards, the Dominica Hucksters Association and other agencies involved in marketing and sale of dasheen, sweet potatoes and other root crops to ensure that the post-harvest management is done according to prescribed and acceptable standards for consistency and quality,” he said.
Some of the topics to be covered are: commodity standard specifications, post-harvest treatment and post-harvest handling and packaging of dasheen and traceability.
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what about adding value to the crop through processing?
Did St. Jean get his dasheen back?
I know, I know! Just a question.
The average British or American housewife has no knowledge of dasheen and its culinary uses. There are scored of ways in which dasheen can be presented. They include starters, soups, main courses and deserts. Dasheen can also be processed to a number of high value end products right here in Dominica. As with many of our lesser-known West Indian crops, dasheen has a huge market potential that has yet to be realized.
On delivery to the UK and USA, the shelf life of dasheen corms from Dominica is only three weeks, whereas corms, correctly handled and stored, from other locations have a shelf life of up to four months.
On file at DEXIA is an excellent report on processing dasheen by Prof. Dr. L. George Wilson. The report dates from 2011 and is critical of what was then current practice at the Roseau Pack House. The gist of his message is: handle dasheen as you would handle eggs. I doubt that present practice is much of an improvement.
That is a news