The FAO in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat, developed a two-year Technical Cooperation Project (TCP/SLC/3401) titled “Reduction of Postharvest Losses along the Food Chain in the CARICOM Sub-region” The project aims to contribute to the food security in the CARICOM region through reduced postharvest losses for sustainable economic growth. The overall project outcome is increased capacity of the CARICOM member countries to sustainably reduce postharvest loss.
Coming out of a regional forum held in Barbados in September 2014, a National Action Plan was developed for Jamaica to assist in the reduction of Postharvest Loss in Onion and Irish Potato. A major part of this plan is the training of RADA’s Marketing Extension Officer in Reduction of Postharvest Losses in Onion and Irish Potato. This training was held during the week of December 15-19, 2014.
All fourteen Marketing Extension Officers were trained by Dr. Joseph Mpagalile (FAO-Rome) and the two FAO consultants, Dr. Majeed Mohammed of UWI, St. Augustine and Mr. Kelvin Craig of Guyana.
The main objective of the workshop is to reduce postharvest losses in onion and potato production systems using new and innovative approaches in postharvest technologies.
The goals/other objectives were to:
• To train Irish potato and onion extension officers on how to conduct an in-depth analysis of postharvest handling practices.
• To obtain a more complete understanding of the system-wide nature of quality deterioration and subsequent losses in order to formulate appropriate solutions for quality management and loss reduction strategies at various Critical Loss Points (CLPs) in the postharvest handling system.
• To analyse Irish potato and onion value chains as items for food consumption, with quality attributes which must be protected and enhanced in various marketing channels.
• To examine the significance of losses of both technological and socio-economic origins at each CLP.
• To examine links between growers on the one hand and provisions for transferring relevant research information on identified problems at each CLP to producers, traders, processors on the other hand.
• To design and evaluate improved operations at each identified CLP within the handling system for potato and onion.
• To describe key factors affecting the logistics performance in Jamaica with particular emphasis on logistics that affect potato and onion losses in the supply chain.
All the objectives were met at the end of the workshop. The Officers also got a chance to learn how to use the instruments that they had in their marketing kit. As a part of the workshop a field trip was done to extend the practicality of the workshop. Areas visited were the Mandeville Market, Christiana Potato Growers’ Cold Storage Facility and Mega-mart food store.
To ensure continuity the officers developed and action plan for each parish that they will implement as a measure in reducing postharvest losses. The Verbal evaluation done by the officers is that this workshop was one of the best and was long in the waiting.