ITC trains vendors and health inspectors in Fiji as part of agricultural assistance project

6 November 2013
ITC News
ITC’s pilot training programme in Namaka Market part of a project to improve key services to agriculture in Fiji’s sugar belt

As part of a project designed to improve key services to agriculture in Fiji’s sugar belt, the International Trade Centre (ITC) conducted a two-hour pilot training programme on hygiene awareness on 29 October at the Namaka Market for fresh fruit and vegetables in Nadi, which is a bustling hub for international travellers.

Some 70 participants, including market vendors, inspectors from the Town Council and the Ministry of Health as well as market managers from the Town Council, attended the workshop that was held to train participants on the importance of food hygiene and safety. Participants were informed about Fiji’s new food safety regulations – the Fiji Food Act – and how to comply with them, as well as the implications of national and international standards on vendors’ potential market options.

‘The market training went very well. Strong interest was shown from the participants and the forum was used to highlight some hygiene and safety related issues to the Nadi Town Council’, said Wayne Lilo, ITC National Project Technical Coordinator.

‘The forum was also used to start a dialogue between the vendors’ association and health inspectors, with the commitment to work more closely together to improve hygiene at the market and improve their relationship.’

Initial feedback from the vendors indicated strong appreciation for the workshop.

The training delivered by ITC Food Safety Consultant, Dr. Namrata Wakhaloo, was part of a project component to promote awareness about food hygiene, to build Fiji’s capacity to implement Food Safety Systems, and, where markets require it to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) compliance. The ITC project, Improvement of key services to agriculture in Fiji, is fully-funded by the European Union as part of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AAP2011) Programme.

‘Some of the tasks required to upgrade hygiene are easily implemented and do not require financing’, said Dr. Wakhaloo. All food-related businesses in Fiji will have to comply by 2015 with the Fiji Food Act, which mandates the implementation of CODEX hygiene requirements. Food-related businesses will also need to invest in becoming HACCP-compliant where this is required by their buyers. Some larger enterprises in Fiji have already taken this step and benefited from it by finding new buyers overseas and with international buyers in Fiji.

The food safety component of the ITC-EU project assists operators in the agriculture sector towards meeting this challenging deadline. The project is currently assisting nine enterprises to comply with Food Safety Pre-requisites, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), HACCP and at the same time building the capacity of nine local Trainers/Counsellors to provide assistance to enterprises in the area. An informal Food Safety / HACCP Task Force has been created to build collaboration between various projects in Fiji that are involved in different aspects of food safety.