BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday March 1, 2018 – Vendors and other stakeholders in the coconut industry in the Caribbean will soon have to adhere to an improved set of guidelines, under the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) Coconut Water Standard.
The guidelines include, among other things, the procedures for the growing, harvesting, and packaging of the commodity.
The decision to revise the regional standard, which has been in place since 2010, was taken during a regional stakeholder meeting on coconut water quality, held at CROSQ’s headquarters in Barbados this week. It came against the background of concerns about the quality of coconut water sold by retailers across the region, as well as the results of recent independent analyses on samples, which found some issues with the water.
Participants identified six areas in need of attention: food safety evaluation; recognition of testing facility compliance; chain of custody for samples; sampling regime; testing protocols, procedures and sampling; and the testing environment.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural and Research Development Institute (CARDI), Barton Clarke, said it was critical that action be taken to rebuild the coconut industry in the Caribbean which was already seeing “significant investments”, particularly in Guyana.
Although he did not give a definite timeline as to when the amended CROSQ Coconut Water Standard would be rolled out, Clarke said vendors and growers of coconuts had no need to fear.
“There is a CARICOM standard which speaks about hygiene, harvesting, the age of the nuts you select for harvesting, cleaning the equipment…The farmer will become aware, working in collaboration with the local Ministries of Health and Agriculture…of what he needs to do in order to make a sustainable business,” he explained, emphasizing that success depended heavily on compliance and building capacity within the industry.