“Good Agricultural Practices involves the adoption and application of good management principles for the production of wholesome and safe agricultural products for human consumption without affecting the environment and the health of farm workers.” Principles
The principles of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for the production of any crop for human consumption involve:-
- Food safety
- Minimum impact on the environment.
- Minimum effect on the health of Farm Workers.
All stakeholders involved in the production of any food crop for human consumption should utilize the principles as set out to manage the RISK associated with Food Safety, Health and Hazards
Major areas with Potential Risk
The production profile as shown below encompasses the major areas with any potential risk.
- Site Selection
- Site Preparation
- Variety Selection
- Pest Control
- Disease Control
- Weed Control
- History of prior usage both agricultural and non-agricultural is necessary.
- Previous use or non use of GAP’s by former users.
- Avoid sites or plots previously used for disposal of garbage or toxic waste.
- Assess previous history of animal husbandry on site. It maybe
- necessary to analysis soil sample for Microbiological contamination.
- Assess whether animal pens existed on site or close by.
- Good clearance and tillage.
- Avoid heavy use of pesticides.
- Incorporate organic manure as necessary.
- Avoid water logging.
- On slopes use conservation practices
Selection of varieties or cultivars for commercial production should be based mainly on:
- Market preferences.
- Disease resistance.
- Production capability of plant.
- Detailed information on genetic modification (GMO’s) of product.
Note: Any planting of GMO’s must comply with all existing regulation in the country of production and country exported to.
- Serious consideration must be given to:-
- Seedling production.
- Time of Planting.
- Selecting the best planting material
- Organic/Inorganic Fertilizers.
- Handling and Application of Organic Fertilizer.
- Handling and Application of Inorganic Fertilizer.
- Avoid excess use of any fertilizer.
- Excessive use can be:-
– wasteful, expensive, increase risk of plant to disease.
– For inorganic ie. phosphates and nitrates leaching into river, streams, ground water may pose a threat to human and other animal
Handling and Application of Organic Fertilizer.
- Personnel handling manure and compost should be vaccinated against tetanus (Clostridium tetani) and should not handle organic matter when having exposed wounds. Proper precautions should be taken.
- Proper washing after handling raw manure and compost is also a very important practice in order to prevent illness of field operators.
When applying organic fertilizers other precautions that need to be taken include:-
- Organic fertilizers must be properly treated prior to application.
- It should be applied to the planting hole and incorporated in the soil prior to planting.
- Organic fertilizers should not be applied when the crop is nearing maturity.
- Maximum time should be allowed between application of organic fertilizers and harvest of the product.
- Never use untreated manure directly to the plant crop.
– Fertilizer to be applied as required for a particular crop.
– Fertilizer to be stored in a clean, dry covered location.
– The records must show: location, date of application, type and quantity of fertilizer applied, method of application and the operator.
Hazards associated with irrigation water are influenced
- Water source and quality.
- Amount of water applied.
- Irrigation programme.
- Irrigation method.
- Infiltration properly of the soil.
- Time & harvest date.
Pay attention to:
– Pesticide Use and Misuse.
– Selection of Pesticide.
– Pesticide Handling.
– Pesticide Application in the Field.
– Pesticide Storage.
– Pesticide Residues.
– Pesticide Disposal.
– Training & Documentation.
Pest, Weed and Disease Control
– Proper identification of pest or disease.
– Use integrated pest management approach.
– Utilize cultural and biological methods.
– crop rotation, insect free or clean planting material,
resistant cultivars, burning infested plant material,
manual or mechanical weeding, moulding and
Considerations for Harvesting:-
– Harvest interval for application of chemical(s) has passed.
– Personal hygiene of harvesters to minimize contamination.
– The use of clean field crates for collection, transportation and temporary storing harvested produce.
– Only harvest sound and mature fruits.
– Do not harvest immature or soft produce.
– Harvest with trained and well supervised harvesters.
– Use clean equipment e.g. knives etc.
– Use clean and sanitized vehicle.
– Avoid cross contamination from other produce, non food sources, contaminated surfaces during loading, unloading, storage and transportation operations.
– Cover produce being transported
All facilities used for temporary storage should be:-
– Designed for easy cleaning and sanitization with sloping floors.
– Well protected to prevent entry of vermin, animals, birds and insects.
– Fitted with screened windows.
– Kept free for residues, waste material or hazardous substances.
With an established cleaning and sanitization schedule
- All records must be updated and kept for up to 2 – 3 years.
- Copies of Laboratory analysis and certificates that verify compliance with code etc. must be filed.
- Each package/bulk package leaving the farm must be traceable (ie. date of harvest) to farm sources.
- Records of lot number must be maintained for all produce leaving the farm.
- Staff training records must be kept.
Worker’s Health & Safety, Hygiene & Sanitary Practices
- Infected workers can transmit pathogens to fresh fruits and vegetables. Workers with gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea) or wounds should report sickness so they will not be handling the produce.
- Contaminated surfaces, equipment, containers can infect workers and endanger his/her health and that of the consumer.
Failure to adhere to good GAP would result in the following:
rejection and confiscation of said foods.
Lack of consumer confidence.
Loss of markets.
Loss of revenue for exporters.
Loss of foreign exchange for exporting country
Spin-offs – Loss of jobs, lower wages