students at st. Vincent and the Grenadines is now close to having healthy and nutritious school meals using locally available fish thanks to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Government of Mexico and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
As part of the flexible school feeding subproject component of the Mexico-CARICOM-FAO initiative “Collaboration for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean”, 8 fishermen received practical training in food safety, specifically addressing seafood safety issues Identification, personal hygiene, cleaning and sterilization of the work environment, handling and spoilage of fish, sensory evaluation, product development and marketing.
As a final batch of food safety training for primary producers currently being trained under the project, this training is designed to provide fishermen with the knowledge and tools to meet healthy fish supply standards. Food safety coach, Selina Andrews, confirmed “Focusing on the effectiveness of sanitation and hygiene is a critical area to consider when preparing fish (and other foods as well) for safe human consumption.”
For fishermen and hunting organizations, this will expand the range of markets available to sell their products, which will include providing a school meal program and thus ensuring that students receive the best quality of this important protein.
Nerissa Gittens-McMillan, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Agriculture, spoke about the training programme, and reaffirms the commitment of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and particularly her Ministry to seizing the opportunities that the National School Feeding Program offers to local farmers and fishermen. as referring to “The availability of safe and healthy fish for use in the school feeding program in our primary schools is a vital component in striving to introduce healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.“.
Laura Anthony Brown, FAO National Project Coordinator for the initiative, explains: “Fish is a vital part of our diet, and access to nutritious fish is essential to ensure we are able to combat broader health problems such as non-communicable diseases and childhood obesity. Last year, the project supported the review of menus as part of a school feeding program and trained chefs to use these menus including That’s fish in meals. By training local fishermen, we can confidently buy fish that we know is safe for consumption. Thus, we provide the best for our students!”
The fishermen trained under this initiative are part of a larger group of 70 farmers and fishermen being trained through the project. Sharon James, one of the participants in this latest training – the fishmonger, shared, “The The training was very good for me. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before, especially how to handle several types of fish. This training will benefit me as I prepare the fish for sale and I hope to be a part of any further training.”
Participants from various cooperatives and private companies operating in the fisheries sector after this point will be invited to participate in further training activities aimed at building business acumen and promoting further commercialization of the fisheries sector.
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