Food safety knowledge, standards and technology are higher than ever across the world – yet safety is a big issue that can affect us all. Up to 40% of all food loss from the supply chain is through unsafe, degraded, or poor-quality food. Most of us wouldn’t touch food that looks less than healthy. Let’s face it - would you buy a bruised or moldy-looking orange, or a pepper after a well-publicized disease outbreak in the crop? In low- to middle-income countries, US$ 10bn a year is lost to poor productivity and medical expenses because of unsafe food. Tackling food safety issues, both visible and invisible, is therefore essential - for both public health and confidence in our fresh produce.
On farm Food safety is key
Everyone in the value chain has a responsibility for food safety, and this most important on the farm, where agricultural workers need to take care to manage potential safety risks from the moment a seed is planted.
And potential risks are everywhere! From bacteria on crops and residues from crop protection to animal medications as well as naturally occurring contaminants. So, it makes sense to ensure an effective food safety system that takes into consideration all these hazard types. Of course, countries have their own legal standards too – but many farms go beyond legal requirements to implement their own robust (and transparent) procedures that best suit their set-up, and existing practices, and environmental risk factors on their farm and in their region of the world.
What types of procedures do farmers undertake?
Procedures to ensure food safety can apply throughout the entire on-farm food production process - from growing, harvesting, sorting, packing, storage operations, to soil management, hygiene, temperature monitoring, animal encroachment, and water management. Depending on the part of the world and specific farm needs, growers might include some of the following procedures on their farmland
• Producing handling requirements (especially for fruits and vegetables which are likely to be eaten raw)
• Ensuring facility registration
• Recording access and inspections
• Maintaining food traceability records
• Conducting hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls
• Ensuring controlled use of crop protection
So, a safety-positive farm might keep its soil in good health to reduce run-off; rotate crops; apply chemical crop protection in precise and controlled ways; make smart use of biologicals and seed treatments; have a plan to remove or plough under rotten biomass, use a closed system to clean equipment; and have strong biosecurity measures to control the movement of people, animals and equipment.
How do we get farmers thinking about safety long term?
With BayG.A.P., we take a comprehensive approach to making food safe and minimizing the hazard presented by pesticide residues. Our stewardship measures are applied at every stage, including development of the products themselves.
But how do we ensure long-term compliance, and also commit to always improving, using advancements in technology and knowledge to continually push standards higher?
One thing that is really making a difference is learning about responsible use. We’re working to implement programs to train Bayer employees and customers about responsibly handling and working with Bayer products and services throughout their life cycle.
Working directly with farmers helps them to directly gain an understanding of the benefits of good agricultural practice and food safety. Even better, applying what they learn means farmers can improve their economic situation by avoiding lost income through having to dispose of unsafe or low-quality food.
That’s where BayG.A.P training is proving hugely effective – farmers get access to practical knowledge they need to progress towards certification to work with the food chain and secure their incomes, and to ensure food safety and farm sustainably.
More than food safety…
You’ll find a dedicated module on Food Safety in the BayG.A.P. curriculum – and in fact, many other modules are relevant to food safety, including Site Management, Waste and Pollution Management, Crop Protection Products, and Traceability & Documentation.
What’s more, BayG.A.P. is practical as well as theoretical, with support and continuous assessment taking place so that farmers can adopt safety practices successfully straight away to ensure that real change happens in the field.
Making a difference for Mango growers
That’s exactly what the participants of the BayG.A.P project to train mango growers in Mali experience, supported by Greenyard and GIZ. The training is tailored to fit the farmers’ lives as closely as possible, taking place in the orchards themselves, in the local Bambara language, and on completion, each farmer received individual assessments and follow-ups to go with their training. Many progress to take the globally accepted GLOBALG.A.P. accreditation standard as well.
Through this end-to-end support, growers are now better able to control fruit flies, protect fruit quality as well as yields, and implement the handling and phytosanitary standards needed to meet importers’ demands and give fruit its best, safest possible start.
After completing training, farmers report a better understanding of farm management and safety-positive practices and even experience better market access – putting them in good stead for the future.
Reducing risk and boosting confidence in food
For the Mali growers, learning initiatives on food safety done in a tailored, farmer-centric way, such as through BayG.A.P. initiatives are a way to create positive progress towards safe food and healthier living. And when we make higher and more universal food safety and transparency standards possible, we not only support health and nutrition, we also safeguard farmer revenues, reduce health risk and food waste, ensuring that people want to buy and eat the food that so much effort goes into producing.
So now we’re asking … what can you do to stay healthy and reduce food waste today?
Did you know?
Bayer has committed to empowering 100 million smallholder farmers, to reducing the impact of agriculture, and to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include Zero Hunger, Good Health & Well-Being and Responsible Consumption & Production. BayG.A.P. is helping with training to reach this goal and make farming more sustainable for future generations to come.
What does Food Safety mean for farmers?
- The Right Knowledge
BayG.A.P. Services deliver training and understanding on safety-positive practices, suited to the farmer’s needs and challenges
- Preventive Measures and Good Practices
Good agricultural practices prevent the spread of contaminants, as well as effectively controlling disease outbreaks and making effective, precise use of crop protection
- More Food Enters Value Chain
The right practices enable more crops to make it to harvest, with less loss to disease and degradation. In addition, more will meet retailers’ standards for safety and transparency.
- Revenue Boost
While consumers benefit from a greater supply of healthy good, the farmer benefits because they can sell more crops, potentially for a higher price too.
- Greater Investment in Safety Measures
Farmers in a better financial position can reinvest surplus funds in equipment and initiatives that enable safer, more sustainable and more efficient farming, in a holistic package of benefits. This can include greater engagement in collaborative training and knowledge-sharing schemes, completing the cycle.