BARRICK Lumwana Mining Company (LMC) has pledged to sharpen farmer competitiveness by raising standards of crop quality and hygiene.
Speaking at the official closing of a Barrick Lumwana five-day food safety training workshop at Mwaaka Lodge on Friday in Solwezi, company sustainability manager Brenda Tambatamba said farmers from Mumena, Makumbi and Matebo chiefdoms were now able to supply major international firms like All Terrain Services (ATS) that are catering to the mining companies in the province.
And moving a vote of thanks on behalf of the smallholder farmers, Namwinga Ngoza from Mutanda area thanked the company’s sustainability department for organising a training workshop of that nature. “Had it been done earlier, it would have enabled farmers have more money as the information they have acquired is immense and very enlightening,” Ms Ngoza said.
She assured Barrick Lumwana that the training would help in improving yields and enhance farmers’ access to markets and empowered.
And Ms Tambatamba noted that the workshop provided an overview of practical and reasonable agricultural practices that can be implemented on farms and in parking houses to reduce the risk of food-borne pathogens on crops.
She also said it was designed to assist farmers to provide nutritious, healthy and safe fruits and vegetables to customers.
“Good agricultural practices are also about protecting businesses as they not only prevent the public from illnesses but also protect farmers from the economic consequences of food contamination which can render them moribund,” she said.
Some of the key lessons acquired from the training include food safety and quality assurance; how food safety and quality are addressed through control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from initial production, handling, to distribution of the final products to the markets or consumer.
Health and hygiene for farmers and workers were also addressed.
“Reviewing, evaluating and strengthening current good agricultural practices (GAPs) used on the farm and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) used in parking facilities can reduce microbial risks.
‘‘You as growers need to be aware of the microbiological problems that can occur and need to take the step to help protect public health as well as their families, businesses and livelihoods,” Ms Tambatamba said.
She said financial losses resulting from a food-borne outbreak can be devastating to a business as there was no way to guarantee that everything grown on a farm was free from harmful microorganisms. Preventive measures during all phases of production could minimize such risks.
And Veria Hampoota, a poultry farmer of Women of Hope Cooperative from Lumwana East, thanked the mining company for enlightening farmers on how to manage manure disposal in a manner that enriched the environment.
The safety information she had acquired would boost her production levels by helping reduce diseases occurring from poor management of manure.
Jack Chinkobeka who has 1,500 banana plants on a 15-hectare farm in Muyashi area said the information on handling of hazardous chemicals and other health regulations had empowered farmers to produce more user-friendly crops.
Mr Chinkobeka urged Barrick Lumwana to replicate such training in more areas of the province especially with the confidence expressed by President Edgar Lungu that the region could soon become the country’s food basket.
Story courtesy of SUMA SYSTESMS