Coconut vendors engaged in discussion with Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer Leslie Brereton (third right), deputy chairman of the National Coconut Stakeholders’ Platform, Patrice Stoute, (second right) and CARDI’s local representative, Ansari Hosein (right). (BGIS)
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Efforts are on to boost the quality of coconut water on the island, and the men and women who sell it on the streets are among the principal targets.
The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, will be hosting a series of training sessions for the vendors.
“We are trying to increase the quality of the value chain of the coconut water from the time they pick the coconuts to when the consumers drink the coconut water. We want to sensitise the workers of what working under the food safety regulation entails,” senior health officer Richard Bourne said.
“We are trying to step up the game with how they function. We don’t want to stop anyone from making a dollar – that’s how they feed their families.
“It’s in the infancy stage but it’s a big industry and eventually it will grow and get bigger and bring in some much-needed foreign exchange when they get to that level. When you dress properly and conduct yourself in a good manner, you will get more sales,” he added.
Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer Leslie Brereton said the workshop was geared towards helping the vendors recognise there were hygiene practices which should be followed as they plied their trade.
“Some of those who use your coconuts are tourists, and we don’t want to have a situation where it could be proven that a tourist had a particular disease or problem from drinking coconut water in Barbados. We need to put in place those standards and let you understand what is required of you when you are vending . . . in terms of these coconuts,” he said.
Among the topics to be covered are the importance of cleaning and sanitising equipment; health service regulations pertaining to the vending of coconuts; ensuring high-quality coconut water, and managing coconut waste.
There will also be presentations on small business development and financing options for their businesses.
The sessions will be held tomorrow and next Monday in the conference room at the Ministry’s of Agriculture’s Graeme Hall, Christ Church offices, beginning at 9 a.m. (DB)