Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dominican Republic: Good Agricultural Practices

Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer volunteer, Dr. Obadiah Mugambi Njue, provided trainings and technical assistance in the areas of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and vegetable production in protected greenhouse environments.

Information from Dr. Njue's Farmer to Farmer trip report:

"Greenhouses can be a means to economically maintain optimum growing conditions at times of the year when production in the field is not conducive and when market prices for the vegetable crops are highest. Production practices need to carefully address the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Food contamination can occur at any level of food handling, from production through transporting the product to the consumer. A GAPs program is a first step to ensure food safety. Production practices (both in greenhouses and in open fields) should emphasize on prevention of microbial contamination of farm produce during production and through post-harvest handling. Greenhouses visited in the Dominican Republic were designed to incorporate a GAPs program with a footbath and hand wash station installed at the entrance of each greenhouse. However, women producers and technicians had not received a formal training on GAPs and this was evidenced by some of the practices observed.

Production of vegetables under protected (controlled) environments offer many advantages compared to those planted in the open fields. However, the advantages can only be realized if the controlled environmental factors (example, temperature, water, nutrients and soil borne diseases and other pests) are properly managed. Lack of proper management can result in many challenges, including poor quality products, low yields and sometimes loss of crop.

Several greenhouses were visited in Padre de las Casas, Jarabacoa, Constanza, San Jose de Ocoa and Santiago. Workshops (training sessions) on GAPs and Management of Crops in Protected Environments were conducted for women producers and technicians. The training sessions followed greenhouse visits. Analysis results (suggestions and recommendations) were discussed with participants during the training sessions."

Dr. Njue conducting a training for the USAID/RED beneficiaries in Jarabacoa.
Dr. Njue observing reduced fruit set due to flower abortion in one of the greenhouses.

Cilantro and peppers growing in the same greenhouse - Dr. Njue identified this as a an unsustainable practice. 
The woman's group in Las la Gunas - Arriba diversified their greenhouse production by growing Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) along with peppers. Diversification is a recommended practice for small scale fruit and vegetable production both in greenhouses and open field. However, the volunteer noted that GAPs need to be incorporated into the planning of crop combination and rotation. Growing the two crops together was not recommended by the volunteer for future practices. Chemicals sprayed on the pepper crop can easily get on Cilantro and Cilantro is sometimes used in salads and this practice does not meet GAP standards. The volunteer advised the growing of Cilantro after the peppers completed their production cycle and only if the rotation was profitable. Another practice that had GAPs concern was failure to have a recorded chemical spray schedule and types of chemicals used in the greenhouse. Dr.Njue presented these recommendations during the trainings and in his trip report and the woman's group was pleased to receive this assistance.

1 comment:

  1. Mzee
    I like the blog. Are they using the herbs for biological control?