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 two hundred attendees come from across the Bahamas and around the world to learn from experts in food safety and food preservation. The person responsible for the educational initiative Alaasis Braynen, managing director of BAMSI, said that 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. It is also another way to add value to fruits and vegetables that were either sub-market quality or redirect the fresh market was unable to absorb.
He further thanked BAMSI team members, Public Relations Manager Antonique Sands and Research and Development Manager Georgette Gray for playing an instrumental role in planning the workshop.
However, with the expansion of the workshop to members of the Farmers Voice group, which BAMSI created in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Island Family Affairs, farmers, smallholder farmers, educators, agricultural students and even foodies were able to learn how to properly store and preserve products for home and business use.
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 walked participants through ‘Dehydration Preservation’. BAMSI President, Senator, Hon. Dr. Erecia Hepburn was also on hand 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 course led by Keith Daley, Senior Food Technologist at the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and Bernard Clarke, Food Technologist, DOA. The other participants were able to access this session via zoom.
Mr. Daley, who explained the technical aspects of food preservation, showed class five the 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.