Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables clean
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CTA. 2005. Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables clean. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57221
Philip Siamuyoba, a senior agricultural officer for horticultural crops in the Zambian ministry of agriculture, on the basic principles farmers should follow to keep their produce free from harmful contaminants.
Keeping fresh fruit and vegetables clean Cue: For those farmers who export fruit and vegetable crops to overseas markets, standards of quality and cleanliness are extremely high. But what about crops sold on domestic markets in Africa; should they not also be free from hazards, such as chemical residues or harmful bacteria? Across the continent, there is a growing awareness among consumers that they have a right to buy clean, healthy foods, and increasingly, where standards are poor, farmers can expect to receive low prices, or struggle to sell their produce at all. So what are the standards that all fruit and vegetable farmers should be trying to meet? To find out, Chris Kakunta spoke to Philip Siamuyoba, a senior agricultural officer for horticultural crops in the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives. IN: ?It is important that safety measures ? OUT: ? our fresh fruits and vegetables.? DUR?N 4?11? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Philip Siamuyoba of the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, who was talking to Chris Kakunta. Transcript Siamuyoba It is important that safety measures are put in place, from production all the way through the food chain up to the consumer. At production level, the farmers should be able to take good agricultural practices. If we take, for instance, the environment under which that vegetable or that fruit is going to be produced, the environment should not pose or should not have hazards that can compromise the safety and quality of the vegetables. And it is also important to look at the agricultural input requirements for the fresh vegetables and fruits, so that the inputs that are applied are those inputs that are recommended to be applied for the growth of those vegetables and fruit. Kakunta Could you cite some of the chemicals that you think are not very good for a consumer, those that are widely abused here in Zambia? Siamuyoba Well I would not cite specifically a chemical that may be harmful; all chemicals are harmful, but as long as that chemical is applied according to the manufacturer?s instructions and the residue effect is taken into account... Kakunta Meaning that the crop should not be harvested until the chemical has expired? Siamuyoba That is correct. It is important that when you are applying or using any chemical you should keep records, so that you know when you have applied, and you know when you are going to harvest the crop or the fruit. You should ensure that the crop is not harvested before the chemical expires ? the period under which the chemical has got its effectiveness. Kakunta So once a farmer has now harvested this crop, what other factors should a farmer consider to ensure that this vegetable, this fruit, is safe before it is off-loaded onto the market? Siamuyoba At the time of harvesting, the practices that you are going to employ in handling the crop in the field are very important to ensure that there is safety. So when the crop is ready, it is important that it is put in clean containers, and the container which has not had any chemicals in it. The person who is harvesting it must also have personal hygiene. Kakunta The vegetables and fruits are normally eaten whilst fresh, and most people would just pick them, maybe from the shelf, and straight to the mouth. Siamuyoba Yes, it is a common practice that one would pick something raw and eat it right away. So if one picks a mango, or even a tomato fruit, it is important that one washes it with clean water. So it is important to clean whatever we take as raw. Kakunta What are some of the illnesses that are brought about by not following safety measures, especially on horticultural crops and fruits? Siamuyoba If the produce has not been kept in a clean environment it is bound to be attacked by microbial infection, and the type of disease that one would expect would be abdominal, like diarrhoea and things like that. Kakunta Looking at what we have discussed here, Mr Siamuyoba, do you think it is attainable here in Zambia to improve the quality and the safety standards of the products, especially vegetables and fruits on the market? Siamuyoba Yes it is possible, as long as we sensitise the people who are handling our fresh fruits and vegetables, right from the producer to the marketing agencies, and even to the consumers, as being final in the food chain. So if every player in the food chain puts into practice these good, hygienic practices, it is possible that we can obtain the high quality and hygiene of our fresh fruits and vegetables. End of track.