The Guyana National Bureau of Standards in keeping with its mandate to develop national standards has formulated a number of agriculture related standards in order to improve the quality of products available for local consumption, as well as exportation. Some of these standards are: Specification for grades of banana, pineapple, watermelons, cassava, eddoes, plantains, hot peppers, etc. These standards have been harmonized with international standards, mainly Codex Standards and CARICOM Regional Standards, to facilitate acceptance of Guyana’s products regionally and internationally.
The GNBS has also formulated three crucial standards which will further enhance operations in this sector. These are:
1. Code of Practice for packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables.
This Code of practice specifies hygienic practices for the production and packaging of fresh fruits and vegetables. It addresses microbial, physical and chemical hazards, as these relate to good agricultural and manufacturing practices.
2. Guidelines for the production, processing, labelling and marketing of organically produced foods.
Standards support the local Agri -sector.
These guidelines set out the principles of organic production at farm, preparation, storage, transport, labelling and marketing stages; and provide an indication of accepted, permissible inputs for soil fertilizing and conditioning; plant pest and disease control; food additives and processing aids.
3. Guidelines for Good management practices for micro and small enterprises.
The guidelines in this standard set out the principles for implementing a Quality Management System, Environmental Management System and an Occupational health and safety Management System in all small enterprises including, the fresh fruits and vegetable sector.
The GNBS also has a number of other standards which can be of great benefit to farmers and agro-processors. These include Specification for Rice, Poultry and Poultry Products, Food Hygiene, Packaged Coconut Water, Salted Fish, Labelling of Pre-packaged Goods, Jams and Jellies, and the Transport and Handling of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.
As we observe Agriculture month under the theme: Food Security and Hinterland Development: Our National Priority, we have to also strive to make standards a key driver of local agriculture expansion. The more our local Agri-sector utilizes available standards, the more our products will be able to satisfy quality, safety and labelling requirements. Through standards, everyone in the sectors will be able to communicate these expected product requirements.