CARDI’s local representative Ansari Hosein (right) explaining how the new equipment will come in handy to coconut vendors Harvey Lewis (left) and Rohan Bynoe (centre). (Picture by Lennox Devonish.)
More stringent health and safety standards will be instituted for coconut vendors as the demand for coconut water increases. These include sterilising tools and the worktable, the use of hairnets and aprons, water for washing and labelling of the product.
The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, is working on a project that will eventually legitimise coconut vending as a business.
For the past three days workshops were held at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room in Graeme Hall, Christ Church, to teach vendors about best practices, coconut water quality, waste management and sanitation. Vendors were also presented with starter kits.
Agricultural officer Collin Maynard said this was an effort to further develop the trade, as vending had become an economic livelihood. Speaking after the conclusion of the workshops yesterday, he said there were about 80 vendors across the island. Though he could not determine how many farmers there were, he said the sector heavily depended on people growing coconuts their backyard and that was something the ministry was looking to change.
He said they were in the process of importing coconut varieties and looking to help interested people develop a coconut growing enterprise.
Environmental health officer Richard Bourne said the purpose of these workshops was to get the vendors prepared for vending certificates, which he said were in the works.
He explained that coconut water was recently classified as a food. “Depending on how far the industry develops coconut vendors may be required to have registration certificates and a licence, which is something we are working on for the future,” he said. “But right now we are trying to sensitise the vendors and help them practise their trade under the food hygiene regulation.”
Coconut vendors who attended the workshop were each given two 16 gallon buckets to use for washing hands and utensils. They also received aprons and hairnets.
Vendors Glyn Watson and Tyrone Gittens said vending should be regarded as an honest business. They welcomed any initiative to improve the trade. (SB)