NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Sciences Institute (BAMSI) recently held its first virtual workshop on food conservation and safety.
The two-day event saw nearly 200 attendees participate via Zoom from across the Bahamas and around the world to learn from food safety and food preservation experts.
Key spokesperson Alaasis Braynen, chief executive of BAMSI, said the free workshop, which was initially intended for Institute staff, was offered to add value to the production. The aim, he said, was to penetrate markets and improve food safety and the process includes sauces, pastes, jams, etc.
He explained that it was also another way to add value to fruit and vegetables that were either sub-market quality or to redirect excess produce that the fresh market n was not able to absorb.
Braynen further thanked BAMSI team members, Public Relations Manager Antonique Sands and Research and Development Manager Georgette Gray for being instrumental in planning the workshop.
The Farmers Voice group was created by BAMSI in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Island Family Affairs.
Expanding the workshop to this group has enabled farmers, backyard farmers, educators, agricultural students and even foodies to learn how to properly store and preserve produce for home use and for entrepreneurial projects.
Dr. Patricia Johnson, Director of Food Safety and Quality for the Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA), was present for the opening of the workshop. She discussed “general food safety practices” as well as “hygiene practices.”
She was joined by her colleague, Kimberly Trowers, Inspection Coordinator and BAMSI Lecturer Diane Brown, who guided participants through ‘Preservation by
Dehydration’. BAMSI President, Senator Dr Erecia Hepburn was also present to answer questions.
The second day of the workshop was held at the Gladstone Road Agricultural Complex (GRAC) where BAMSI staff members were able to participate in a tomato processing workshop.
class led by Keith Daley, Senior Food Technologist at the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and Bernard Clarke, Food Technologist, DOA. Other participants were able to access this session via Zoom.
Daley, who explained the technical aspects of food preservation, showed the class five methods of preserving tomatoes, including paste, whole peeled, crushed, diced and pureed tomatoes. At the end of the day, the BAMSI team left with a rich harvest of safely stored tomato products.
Depending on the level of interest generated by the virtual workshop on food preservation and safety, the Institute plans to organize a regular series of free seminars covering various aspects of the agricultural industry and agriculture. For more information on future workshops or to be part of BAMSI’s Farmers Voice program, email: [email protected] or call 242.397.6580.