Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - The major players in the banana industry here
have launched what is anticipated to be a very aggressive campaign to get banana
farmers to be EUREP-GAP compliant by December 31, 2003.
Director of Agricultural
Julius Polius Photo
Chairman of BERU
Hilary La Force Photo
This was sparked off as a result of an initiative by the European Retailers
Working Group, known as EUREP, which represents the main supermarkets. Their
main objective is to seek common standards and procedures for the development of
Good Agricultural Practices, GAP. The EUREP-GAP came into being principally to
ensure food safety for their customers.
Chairman of the Banana Emergency Recovery Unit (BERU), Hilary La Force, says in
an effort to meet the December 31 deadline and realising the limited time
available in which to do so, a subcommittee has been appointed to develop an
action plan to get banana farmers to be EURREP-GAP certified in the quickest
According to La Force, among the issues that the committee recommended are: a
massive education programme which is expected to sensitize the farming community
as well as the public to the importance of this initiative; a programme aimed at
working with farmers on an individual basis in an endeavour to meet the various
criteria to become certified; instituting some support services which would
allow the farmer to meet that certification initiative.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Julius Polius, stated that
in spite of the many challenges that have confronted the farmer in the past and
at present; they have continued to maintain a certain level of competitiveness
in the industry.
Polius indicated that the EUREP-GAP protocol will strengthen the Ministry’s
resolve to continue to maintain a viable banana industry. However, he added that
for this to be achieved the farmers must be prepared to work together since it
will be impossible for individual farmers to do this single-handedly.
“The challenge that this EUREP-GAP will bring, will force us to get our farmers
to work together one more time. I think this is what is vital for the success of
the banana industry” Polius said.
The main stakeholders involved in the EUREP-GAP Compliance Campaign are the five
banana companies, WIBDECO and BERU.