New guidelines for Caribbean coconut farmers
Coconut farmers and others involved in the industry in the Caribbean, will have to adhere to an improved set of guidelines, under the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality’s (CROSQ) Coconut Water Standard.
The new guidelines, agreed to at a meeting in Barbados on Monday, outlines, among other things, the procedures for the growing, harvesting, and packaging of the product.
Six areas addressed
The regional standard has been in place since 2010, and the delegates identified six areas that needed attention including food safety evaluation; recognition of testing facility compliance; chain of custody for samples; sampling regime; testing protocols, procedures and sampling; and the testing environment.
Concerns re quality of coconut water
This comes in light of concerns about the quality of coconut water sold by retailers across the region, as well as the results of recent independent analyses on samples, which found some issues with the water.
Executive Director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural and Research Development Institute (CARDI), Barton Clarke, said it was critical such action be taken, if they were to rebuild the coconut industry in the Caribbean which was already seeing “significant investments.”
However, as it relates specifically to Barbados, the CARDI official pointed to the discarding of shells and other coconut-related waste, as the major concern.
Although he did not give a definite timeline as to when the amended CROSQ Coconut Water Standard will be rolled out, Clarke, made it clear that local vendors and growers of coconuts had no need to fear.
The regional meeting on the establishment of standards for coconut water production was organized by CARDI and CROSQ. Barbados is among 11 Caribbean countries engaged in the Coconut Industry Development for the Caribbean Project, the result of a partnership between CARDI and the International Trade Centre. It is funded by the European Union to the tune of four million Euros.
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