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Saturday 21 October 2017
Local

Agriculture Minister targets farmers’ post-harvest losses

In light of the change in global weather patterns and hurricanes in the Caribbean there are food shortages in some Caribbean islands and in efforts to provide assistance to these neighbouring islands affected by hurricanes, there is a need to decrease post-harvest losses which is hugely impacting farmers locally.

“It is our duty to help them but we can only do this by reducing the amount of losses on the farm due to the damage of crops when they are being harvested or transported,” said the Acting Chief Executive Officer of NAMDEVCO, Debysingh-Persad.

On Saturday, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Clarence Rambharat in collaboration with the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO) distributed over 100 crates to 40 farmers at the NAMDEVCO Chaguanas Farmers’ Market in efforts of reducing post-harvest losses.

Post-harvest losses are losses associated with fresh commodities after they have been harvested. “At the point of harvest there are a number of issues starting --because of improper handling and storage we have hastened deterioration of produce. The way to get around that is to handle the produce properly. NAMDEVCO wants to look at controlled temperatures that will reduce the deterioration rate of produce and by placing the product in receptacles that would keep the produce safe and not cause cracking or compression during transportation to the point of sale,” explained Debysingh-Persad.

One of the mitigation methods is the use of crates. Farmers utilising crates along with proper handling practices and food safety systems would all work towards reducing post-harvest losses. Debysingh-Persad stated that it is NAMDEVCO’s mandate to provide sustainable markets and market practices for farmers and consumers alike as there are a lot of ways produce can be injured while being transported from the farm to the point of sale.

Rambharat said that every initiative his ministry had started has been done in the best interest of farmers, with NAMDEVCO’s expansion projects already underway in Debe and Macoya. “We understand the concerns of farmers especially when it comes to getting your products from the fields to the market. We are also concerned about the change in global weather patterns because our farmers are left exposed, so we want to move towards having a farming system that can withstand the harsh weather and lead to more sustainable farming practices,” said Rambharat at the ministry’s new head office in Chaguanas.

Present at the crate distribution ceremony was the Chairman of the Board of NAMDEVCO, Dennis Ramdeen, Senator Avinash Singh, Nirmalla Debysingh-Persad, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of NAMDEVCO and the Assistant to the Major of the Chaguanas Borough Jagdeo Balroop. Farmers from as far as Rio Claro and Central Trinidad came out in support of the venture.

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