Every year, millions of tonnes of fruits and vegetables never make it from the fields to the plate due to losses from post-harvest handling.
In Suriname, the Caribbean Development Bank is working with the Suriname Business Forum (SBF) to reduce these losses through a training programme entitled ‘Post-Harvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables’.
Seventy participants, made up of farmers, export company staff and airport cargo and handling personnel, are taking part in four training workshops which target different stages of the agricultural value chain. The workshops run from September 12 to October 10, 2019.
Dr. Darran Newman, division chief (acting) of the Technical Cooperation Division at CDB, said the training would help support the growth and export potential of Suriname’s fruit and vegetables industry.
She pointed to a 2016 assessment of the country’s agricultural sector which highlighted that major losses were being sustained due to a lack of knowledge about post-harvest practices and procedures.
“This project is going to address the absence of best practices for post-harvest handling all along the export supply chain – from the farmers to the exporting firms staff to the airport cargo and handling personnel. The goal is to build up the capacity at every stage and contribute to improved production, harvesting, handling, and transportation of fruits and vegetables. This will ultimately preserve product quality which will in turn lead to increased export, income and employment for farmers and exporting firms,” said Dr Newman.
The participants include 20 farmers from the Agricultural Cooperative Kwatta, 20 employees drawn from firms within the Association of Exporters of Agricultural Products in Suriname, and 30 airport employees from Surair Aircargo Services.
The training will also incorporate input from information-sharing sessions with other stakeholders, significantly the Ministry of Agriculture, which will guide the training and ensure attention is paid to the amended regulations of the European Union, which is a key export market for the sector.
The project aligns with the focus which the Suriname Government, the SBF and CDB have all been giving to the agricultural sector in Suriname.
It responds to a key recommendation of Suriname’s Master Plan for Agricultural Development and is also in line with SBF’s current focus on the agricultural sector, particularly the promotion of agricultural products.
It also aligns with CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development, and the regional bank’s corporate priority of supporting agriculture and rural development.
The intervention also complements work CDB has previously done in Suriname with respect to value chain analysis in developing the export readiness of Suriname’s agrifood enterprises.