Last month, a team of students from the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College – Division of Agriculture accompanied by the Division Dean, Mr. Anthony Bonaparte, visited the northern produce buying depot of Consolidated Foods Ltd. (operators of Super J IGA supermarkets and Mega J) in order to get a firsthand experience of the buying/post-harvest process.
As one of the leading purchasers of agricultural products (produce, livestock, eggs, poultry, broiler and value added products) in Saint Lucia, Consolidated Foods Ltd (CFL) is fully aware that good agricultural practices and agricultural development is directly linked to the company’s ability to continue to meet the demands of customers for fresh wholesome agricultural products. More so the company is keen on working with schools and organisations in helping to develop a cadre of future Agricultural professionals.
In that light, CFL Perishables Manager Dunstan Demille led the students on the tour where we showed them the processes involved in getting the product from the farmers’ to the consumer.
During the visit Demille reiterated CFL’s commitment to nurturing young farmers and equipping with them with the best agricultural practices to ensure their ultimate success in the industry.
“CFL’s role goes far beyond providing a market for farmers and producers through the nine Super J IGA stores and Mega J. It also focuses on providing some key support structures which are helping to shape the future of Agriculture in St. Lucia. Presently, through our the Agriculture in Schools Programme HOPSSS programme which we sponsor we have the opportunity to work closely with budding farmers at primary and secondary schools in Saint Lucia on a regular basis,” said Demille to the gathering of young agriculturists.
Bonaparte felt that the visit to CFL was timely as the courses currently offered by the Sir Arthur Lewis are focused mainly on production. Both Bonaparte and Demille agreed that in order for the students to gain a true understanding of the industry, understanding the post harvest process was necessary.
“While students have a great understanding of production related issues, there is still a need for understanding of grading, standards, and measurement systems as well as overall quality control,” said Mr. Bonaparte.
After their visit to the produce buying depot, the group then proceeded to Super J IGA Sunny Acres supermarket where they had a glimpse of the final step in the post harvest process – the product before it reaches the consumer.
Overall students deemed the visit as very beneficial. They were able to gain a greater understanding of the amount of market side of the business and the hard work, sacrifice and dedication required in this field. They have a more comprehensive outlook on agriculture and farming as a field of endeavour as they realize that there is a lot of scope in this industry.