Farmers to benefit more from new certification standards – Caesar
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Labour, Industry and Bureau of Standards is taking steps to ensure that the farmers, fisherfolk and entrepreneurs of this country get the best returns on their output.
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar announced in Parliament last Thursday, that in June, a National Agricultural Certification Unit will be established at the Bureau of Standards to address issues of certification, standards and putting protocols in place to satisfy International Standards.
The Minister said that this new unit will cover the entire agricultural sector and gave a few examples of how persons will benefit practically.
“For example fish and fish products: Once we get the certification and labelling for them to be branded as wild as opposed to farmed, we are putting our fisherfolk in a position to fetch a far better price.”
He explained that the fish which leaves SVG, because it is not branded nor certified as wild, is sold internationally at the same or even lower price than the fish that is farmed, even though farmed fish is sold at a far lower price.
“It means therefore that a significant percentage of what should be calculated as profits do not reach the producers,” he added.
The Agriculture Minister also noted that prices for organic turmeric at supermarkets such as Wholefoods in the United States are sometimes as much as 40 or 50 per cent higher than conventionally produced turmeric.
To address this issue effectively, Caesar said that his Ministry has already sought the services of a company in Europe to come to SVG in the next two weeks to address the issue of branding and labelling of organics. He said that in addition to certification, the new Unit at the Bureau of Standards will also focus on packaging, which must meet international standards to sustain and maintain labels.
Caesar emphasized that the overall aim of the Ministry is to ensure that farmers not only produce but are able to carve out those small areas to obtain the best prices.