Trade Minister urges farmers to get certified for regional and international markets

Trade Minister Ian Douglas, (4th from left) and Median Larocque (extreme left) at the back

Minister for Trade, Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Business and Export Development, Ian Douglas is encouraging farmers to embrace certification programmes in order to enhance the quality of their produce on the regional and international markets.

The minister was speaking at a certification awards ceremony held on the grounds of the Dominica Bureau of Standards/ National Center of Testing Excellence (NCTE) building at Stockfarm on Wednesday.

Ten farmers from across the island are now certified under the (DOM-GAP) Farm Certification Scheme.

They received training in 4 areas, food safety, safe use of pesticide, first aid and calibration.

“If we embrace programmes such as this certification programme it will enhance the quality of our produce on all our regional and international markets, thereby resulting in the generation of even more income,” he said. “Agro processors and exporters alike will now have available to them, access to high quality fresh produce for manufacturing and for export to regional markets such as, Barbados, St Maarten and Anguilla.

He also mentioned that certification gives the local, regional and international consumer the confidence that the fresh produce coming from the certified farms is safe, wholesome and produced in accordance with good agricultural practices such as DOM-GAP.”

Douglas said a number of other farms are undertaking similar processes and will be eventually certified in the upcoming year.

“Therefore, the minister called on all those undertaking these processes to not grow weary in doing so mindful of the benefits that certification possesses,” he stated.

He continued, “I wish to articulate the benefits of certification which are far reaching and trust that this will encourage other farmers with farms in Dominica to seek certification.”

He added, “Firstly, certified farms ensure that high quality fresh produce is available for local and export markets.”

Meantime, Director of the Dominica Bureau of Standards, Median LaRocque said there are 3 levels of the programme in which farmers were certified.

Seven (7) of the farmers are level 2 certified and 3 are level 1 certified.

“There are 3 levels of DOM-GAP, level 3 which is the lowest level entails satisfactory record maintenance, relevant training certificates that the farmers have under the training and the chemical disposable pit on the pack shed, level 2 involves everything mentioned in level 3 plus the farm infrastructure which is the pack shed and level 1 everything that was mentioned plus the Standard Operation Procedures (SOP),” he explained.

He said some of the activities undertaken so far include farm inspection.

“The inspection unit of the Bureau of Standards started conducting farm visits in June of 2018 in order to prepare farms for DOM-GAP certification,” LaRocque indicated.

He revealed that from the period of June 2019 to May 2021 a total 2104 farm visits were conducted.

LaRocque said presently the bureau is working with 167 farmers.

“The auditing of farms commenced in 2020 and the national certification unit at the bureau of standards has conducted 12 final farm audit for the reporting period and a total of ten farms are certified under DOM-GAP levels 2 and 1,” LaRocque noted.  “This represents a total of 55 acres of land.”

DOM-GAP targets all commercial farmers and its ultimate goal  is to enable Dominica’s fresh produce to become internationally competitive through the adoption of innovative farm practices DOM-GAP is presently crop base, however the scope will eventually be extended to accommodate livestock, including poultry, pig and small ruminants.

The programme targeted a number of commodities such as bananas, plantain, dasheen, hot peppers, ginger, pineapples, to name a few.

DOM-GAP also seeks to promote optimum utilization of resources such as water, land and the environment.

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5 Comments

  1. Mike
    May 16, 2021

    How is the produce getting to the regional markets? On the boats in Portsmouth who transport all Dominican agricultural and Manufactured products to all its regional markets week after week. Now look at how you are treating the seafarers who run these boats, it’s a national disgrace, there seems to be sadistic twist to the cruelty and inhumane condition imposed on the seafarers by the Port and Ministry of Health workers and it is shocking of the enjoyment and indifference to the suffering of Dominicans by other Dominicans and what’s even worst is that those who knows what’s going on like the same Minister of Trade, stands by and do nothing.

    • If we knew better
      May 20, 2021

      ITs his constituency isnt it? As the Minister of Trade he has a double obligation.

  2. Jonathan Y St Jean
    May 14, 2021

    As an agriculturalist it makes me wonder when will we stop this happy talk about taking advantage of international markets. Harken back to the products which we sold on the international markets, viz bananas and grapefruits. The main thing is we had to have sufficient “quantity” of product to be able to select for the right “quality” coming from different niche areas to be able to consistently serve the buyers wanting to buy. For that reason large (relatively speaking) estates, including the shipper, got involved in the horizontal and vertical integration of these industries. Until we have sufficient quantity of product for consistent supply to buyers in the international markets, it’s only going to be more happy talk. This is the only way that we will see farming play a significant role again in GDP and meaningful national development. Dominca is good at showing samples to prospective buyers but horrible at shipping reliably to international buyers.

    • VereTere
      May 16, 2021

      These DLP ministers do talk a lot but don’t deliver a thing. Strangely enough most Dominicans still swallow it. It’s unbelievable! Are they under a spell or simply plain stupid?

    • If we knew better
      May 17, 2021

      The thing is, people like Ian do not know much about what they speak of. they think simply getting certified qualifies you to enter the markets. they do not understand the value chain. They do not understand that quality and quantity HAVE to be ensured. Its one thing if you have the best produce, but still cannot fill containers on a consistent level. The international market do not want to deal with inconsistencies. It affects their bottom line. thats how we lost the banana industry. We compromised our quality thinking we were cheating the buyers for a few extra dollars, when we were only cheating ourselves. because in the end they could source it elsewhere. We need to allocate significant crown land for the growing and processing of cash crops. Moringa, coconuts, peppers, ginger etc. Dominica has it all, we can grow in mass and process and sell. Did you know that Dominica is the largest supplier of bay oil? But yet our supply is miniscule compared to other oils on the int’l market?

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