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Banana farmers prepare for new EU certification

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THE ISLAND'S banana producers are undergoing an intensive programme of preparation to meet the certification standards under the European Union Retail Parties Good Agricultural Practices (EUREPGAP) system.

Director of Research at the Banana Industry Board, Janet Coney, said preparation included improving farm practices, documentation procedures, and "generally trying to bring about a culture change of farmers as it relates to audit and certification".

According to Ms. Coney, the banana industry has been in preparation to meet the EUREPGAP standards for sometime and come March and April this year, an audit of some 50 farms would be carried out by the international certifying body.

"Certification at the moment is not for all farms because it requires a great deal of infrastructural change as well as a high level of technology and husbandry," she explained, noting that an additional 50 farms would be added to the programme come 2008.

As part of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) exporting nations, Jamaica has access to a number of European markets including the United Kingdom.

However, to continue to access these markets, farmers are required to meet some 200 standards relating to safety, quality assurance and sustainability in agricultural practices, in keeping with the EUREPGAP system.

In a few years, producers will be required to meet all 200 standards and the EU Banana Support Programme is providing assistance in the process.

[News Source]

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