Local farmers who may be thinking of exporting agricultural produce must first ensure that their farm lands are certified by Quarantine Officers who inspect and audit farms for the purposes of seed and organic crop production and exportation of produce.
The National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO), a department within the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) is responsible for certifying farms in Guyana. This certification would mean that any country to which the produce is exported is guaranteed quality products beneficial to the health of consumers.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAREI, Dr. Oudho Homenauth told the Government Information Agency (GINA), that the relevance of the certification process needs to be emphasised since certified farms indicate compliance with protocols for ‘farm to market’ fresh produce.
“The Ministry of Agriculture would have signed protocols with exporting countries including Barbados, St. Lucia and elsewhere and one of the requirements for export for many countries is that the farm must be certified, and that is the role that NAREI plays. We have to offer that certificate at the end of the day for the product that is being exported,” Dr. Homenauth explained.
The institute has been promoting appropriate and relevant technologies to crop farmers to increase production and productivity of non-traditional crops. This is specifically to enhance food security, increase exports and add value. Farm certification is one of the major requirements by Guyana’s Regional trading partners to access their markets. This certification guarantees that the farmer would have produced crops under conditions that satisfy local and international market standards.
Dr. Homenauth added that the process of certification will show that green and other fresh produce exported have been subjected to all recommended farming inspections and monitoring exercises. Some countries however, do independent routine checks to ensure that the product is of requisite quality for sale in a country.
“We don’t want to export a commodity to another country and when it goes there it’s rejected because it’s Guyana that will suffer at the end of the day. I don’t know if it still happens, but we had persons coming in from the countries we export to …do their own visits themselves to ensure that our farmers, at least those who are certified, are in compliance with the certification process and the activities involved in certification.”
All farms within “Pest Free Areas” may be considered for certification since they are located in geographic areas that are known to be free of a particular quarantined pest. For instance, Region Five is known to be free from the Carambola Fruit Fly, while the spread of the Pink Mealy Bug and Papaya Mealy Bug are under official control.
However, certification of farms in Pest Free Areas would be dependent on other pests, the level of pesticides used in controlling them and good agricultural practices. Farms may take a while to be certified owing to a farmer’s ability to implement the necessary systems.
The certificates which are issued to farmers are valid for a period of three years however, during this period the farms are subjected to inspections at least twice yearly.
One of the most important aspects of farm certification is the maintenance of farm records and inspections by NAREI officers.
Dr. Homenauth noted that, “we encourage everyone who is in the business to have their farms certified. Of course there is no cost and that is important, there is no cost to certification, but it is their interest because we have the pesticides and toxic chemical control board which also does random sampling from farms where they test residues, pesticides residue and so on.”
Farmers eyeing the export market, who are interested in exporting fresh agricultural produce can contact NAREI to find out how they can qualify for certification on telephone number 592-220-5858 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.