Renowned agricultural scientist, M. S. Swaminathan said, “If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right.” These words, profound and undeniable, encapsulate the immense importance of our agricultural endeavours. In a world where the intricacies of global challenges like food security, environmental sustainability, and economic prosperity converge, the success of agriculture emerges as the linchpin.
As we delve into our World Standards Day series, it’s essential to spotlight a standard that is pivotal to our nation’s growth and well-being, TTS 648:2020: Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) – Fresh Produce – Requirements. In this article, we explore how this standard is shaping the future of agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago and why it’s a game-changer for all stakeholders in the sector.
What is Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)?
TTS 648:2020, or Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), is more than just a set of guidelines; it’s a blueprint for excellence in agriculture. Good agricultural practice is a collection of principles that apply to farm production and post=production processes, resulting in safe and health food and non-food agricultural products, while taking into account economic, social and environmental sustainability. The GAP standard establishes minimum requirements for food safety and quality in fresh produce, at production, harvesting, post-harvest handling, packaging, and storage and transportation stages. By doing so, it not only ensures the production of safe and high-quality food but also promotes sustainability and environmental stewardship.
The GAP Standard covers the following areas (and more):
- Production Site
- Planting Material
- Soil and Substrates
- Fertilizers and Soil Additives
- Water Management
- Crop Protection
- Chemical Management
- Harvesting & Produce Handling
- Quality Management
- Traceability & Recall
- Ensuring Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture
Why use Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)?
For our farmers and producers, GAP is a ticket to global markets. By complying with GAP our agricultural products gain access to lucrative export opportunities, expanding the reach of our local farmers and boosting our economy. Food producers will be better positioned to meet compliance criteria for food safety audits to be met by the operators in the restaurant, fast food and food and beverage manufacturing industry, as their products will be considered safe for consumption, in accordance to the Standard.
GAP will ultimately transfer into numerous benefits to the different stakeholders involved, including food safety, quality assurance, traceability, standardized production, and compliance requirements some of which include:
- Improving the quality of your products through a globally recognized standard
- Improving Sustainability and access to new local, regional and international markets
- Improving food safety
- Improving the efficiency of farm processes and management
- Enhancing Worker, Health, Safety and Environmental Welfare
- Encouraging environmentally sustainable farming practices
- Lowering costs
- Producing higher yields
The GAP standard was developed by a Specification Committee for Good Agricultural Practices lead by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), chaired by Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture – Trinidad and Tobago (IICA-TT).
The Specification Committee also comprised organisations such as Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries – Tobago House of Assembly, Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Inspectorate – Ministry of Health, Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation, Food and Agriculture Organization, Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago, Certification and Standardization Divisions – Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards.
NAMDEVCO has been identified by the Government as the organization responsible for the development and implementation of a National Good Agricultural Practices Programme for Trinidad and Tobago. Please contact NAMDEVCO for further information on this matter.
How Can You Get a Copy?
As we celebrate World Standards Day 2023, let us recognize the pivotal role of GAP in shaping the future of agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago. By embracing this Standard, we not only ensure the well-being of our citizens but also pave the way for a thriving and resilient agricultural industry that will flourish for generations to come. Get your copy of the GAP Standard today both in the e-copy and print via www.gottbs.com and TTBS’ Standards Information Centre located at 1-2 Century Drive, Macoya (662-TTBS ext. 2033).