Nearly 30 members from farmer-cooperatives and -associations throughout Region 10 underwent a Training on the installation of ICS on GAP. This undertaking aims to assist farmer-groups in securing a GAP certification, which is an assurance that food or food control systems conform to requirements such as food safety, quality produce, environmental protection, and workers’ health, welfare and safety. By having an ICS, it will bind members of a cooperative or association to ensure compliance to production standards. Also joining the participants are its resource speakers from the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards John Vincent Tecson and Rhitzel Palma with DA-10 officials RTD Carmelita T. Bajarla, MBA and Juliet B. Araos, regulatory division chief along with her staff.
Cagayan de Oro City – Fortifying its assistance of having their farms be Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified, a Training on the Installation of Internal Control System (ICS) on GAP was participated in by members from different farmer-cooperatives and -associations throughout Region 10 held on November 15-17, 2017, here in the city.
GAP is a code that primarily aims at ensuring food safety and assuring produce quality while also having regard for environmental protection and workers’ health, welfare and safety.
In her message, Carmelita T. Bajarla, MBA, regional technical director of the Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) said that the adoption of this Code is timely with consumer demands that are geared towards patronizing products that have undergone certifications.
“As consumers are now health conscious, GAP enhances the safety and quality of our produce with the systems in place,” she remarked.
Recognizing the opportunity, John Vincent Tecson, science research specialist from the Bureau of Fisheries and Product Standards (BAFS), on the other hand, emphasized that in order to easier facilitate the process of GAP certification, there is a need for an installation of an ICS.
“This will serve as a central body within a farmer’s group that will ensure the compliance of all smallholder farmers to a production standard,” he explained.
Likewise, Tecson underscored that before a farmer’s group subjects itself to an external inspection body, that is, the Bureau of Plant Industry, an evaluation in the effectiveness of the ICS shall take place, following the certification as a whole.
“A substantial part of the inspection work is carried out by internal inspectors in the framework of the internal control system set up by the group,” he said.
Accordingly, Tecson detailed the criteria, including but not limited to, similar production methods and inputs on all farm plots in a group, capacity building among members on set standards and the group’s system plan, among others.
All these, should be consolidated by a group through crafting their respective ICS manual, which will include farm production rules, farm registration, internal inspection, internal approval/sanctions, market system and product handling, he specified.
“The final ICS manual can initially be a fairly simple document. What is more important, however, is that procedures and forms are actually implemented and understood by all,” Tecson concluded.
Overall, the training module consists of the following topics: Introduction to GAP and Smallholder Group Certification, Basic Farm Files, Risk Assessment, Internal GAP Standards, ICS Organization, Internal Inspection, Approval and Sanction, ICS documentation, and Buying and Selling Products.
Under the leadership of OIC-Regional Director Carlene C. Collado, DA-10 through its Regulatory Division spearheaded the said activity.