The first Training of Trainers on Good Agricultural Practices was held at PRAN factory, Natore on 22 and 23 February 2017. The training focused on practices for field staff and quality control staff of the agro processing companies from PRAN, ACI, and local NGOs, Sachetan and PCD. These trainers will then in turn train 10,000 farmers in safe production of mango and tomato, who are the beneficiaries of the project “Improving consumer awareness and access to certified safe tomato and mango products in Bangladesh”, funded by the European Commission.
The chief guest of the event was Mohammad Fazlur Rahman, Additional Director, Department of Agricultural Extension, Rajshahi region, Rajshahi. Resource persons presented on Good Agricultural Practices, some of whom included Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Sayed Hassan, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Senior Member, Dr. M. A. Malek, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) and high officials from Department of Agriculture Rajshahi and Natore. Experts from the field of agriculture were actively engaged in the different sessions and expressed their desire to extend support to the project in implementing its ongoing activities, in the presence of Mahbub Ullah, Project Coordinator, SNV and other staff members.
At the inauguration ceremony, Hazrat Ali, General Manager, PRAN said, “We need to be careful when harvesting, which is an important part of demonstrating good practices Farming can be done safely and easily, by practicing some basic means such as washing hands while farming, not using chemicals, temperature control, using fruit baskets for collection, using clean water for irrigation, etc. Only by ensuring GAP, we can ensure good tomato and mango products. Again, we will need to practice this ourselves, and become examples, in order to inform farmers about these processes”. Lastly, he emphasized that it was important to know the proper laws and regulations related to food safety in order to become thought leaders in the market.
Other sessions in the training focused on production technology of mango, management of insects that mangoes are prone to get infected by, importance on food safety and its control measures, rules and regulations of food safety in Bangladesh, methods of technology dissemination, roles and responsibility of the Department of Agriculture and opportunity to contribute in food safety in Bangladesh, way forward, etc.
At the occasion, Fazlur Rahman said, “We know that Bangladesh is predominantly an agricultural country. Earning-wise also, agriculture contributes to the economy largely. Today, we export more than a hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables worldwide as we are in surplus in its production. However Good Agricultural Practices at field level is still lacking, especially during post-harvest stage. The aim is to move to the production of agro-based products in full-swing and to take this step, the gaps need to be addressed and good agricultural practices need to be ensured. Along with this, certification following international standards and ensuring customer satisfaction through proper packaging, transportation, etc. are also important”.
The EU SWITCH-Asia II programme focuses on successful engagement with respective supply chain actors (5,000 mango farmers/smallholding growers, 5,000 tomato farmers, hub-leaders, collectors, traders and agro-food processing companies) to bring substantial change to tomato and mango processed food, i.e. juices, sauces, jams, jellies, pickles etc. The programme targets over 12 million consumers in the Dhaka district, and other national associations and public agencies that are active in the horticulture sub-sector of the country.