TOUR 2019 – Guatemala
Strong Responsible Farming Mindset Boosts Guatemalan Fresh Produce Exports

Organized by Asociación Del Gremio Químico Agrícola (Agrequima) in Collaboration with GLOBALG.A.P.

"This strategic and natural alliance with GLOBALG.A.P. represents our commitment to improving the capacities of Guatemalan producers, and thereby raise safety standards to meet the needs of international buyers." Jorge Hernández, Agrequima.

Building on the last TOUR event in 2016, GLOBALG.A.P. once again joined forces with Agrequima to host a one-day conference in Guatemala on 8 October 2019. Since 2016, national and international stakeholder demand for sustainable and responsibly produced products has continued to rise. Guatemala's significant position in the international market is the result of the country's hard-working producers, who are committed to safe and responsible farming and implementing quality standards.

The TOUR event focused on the economic benefits of Good Agricultural Practices, and introduced GLOBALG.A.P. solutions to address specific issues currently challenging the market, such as the TR4 Biosecurity Add-on for Bananas, GRASP (the GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice), and the GLOBALG.A.P. National Interpretation Guideline for Guatemala V5.2 (NIG).


Extraordinary Growth Spurred by a Commitment to Responsible Farming
According to the USAID brief report, "Sector Brief - Agriculture 2018", Guatemala shifted its strategy to becoming a reliable exporter of non-traditional agricultural products (such as Chinese peas, green beans, and mini vegetables and fruits). This approach to increasing economic growth has been extraordinary for the country. USAID also highlighted the exponential growth of these products over the last decade, which has facilitated a favorable context for small producers and has laid the foundations for agricultural and economic growth in the country. This growth has also resulted from implementing Good Agricultural Practices and fulfilling the needs of consumers, retailers, and other important stakeholders within the primary sector.

Jorge Gomez, of the Guatemala Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), praised the work of Agrequima confirming that "MAGA will continue to support Agrequima's work to promote Good Agricultural Practices and help position Guatemala as a leading exporting country." He added, "As a country, we are proud to have partners such as GLOBALG.A.P., as the standard guarantees that our crops are free of any physical, chemical, and biological threats, allowing us to achieve the quality that national and international consumers demands."

GLOBALG.A.P. Board Member Hugo Hays of Fyffes was impressed with the enthusiasm and dynamism of the Guatemalan delegates, "which demonstrates the enormous interest that GLOBALG.A.P. continues to give in the producer, export and services sector related to fresh products in Guatemala."

GLOBALG.A.P. Interpretation Guideline for Guatemala V5.2 Launched
The event also served as an opportunity to present the National Interpretation Guideline for Guatemala V5.2. A National Interpretation Guideline (NIG) is a document that provides guidance on how to implement GLOBALG.A.P. Control Points and Compliance Criteria at a national level. Developed by the Guatemalan National Technical Working Group (NTWG), this guideline went through a transparent approval procedure and has become a normative GLOBALG.A.P. document. This means that all the certification bodies working in Guatemala must now include this guideline within their certification procedures and inform all their customers about the NIG.
Hector Carrillo, Agrequima G.A.P. Institutional Coordinator and Regional Advisor, stressed the importance of the NIG V5.2 for Guatemala as a "valuable opportunity that GLOBALG.A.P. provides to the country." He added that the NTWG Guatemala "encourages national stakeholders to actively participate in the activities of the NTWG, as their experience and position in the agro-export sector is important and essential to the NTWG's work."

GLOBALG.A.P. TR4 Biosecurity Add-On – Saving the Banana
Juan Gabriel, GLOBALG.A.P. Key Account Manager for Central America, and Marco Villegas, GLOBALG.A.P. Key Account Manager for Mexico, introduced the GLOBALG.A.P. TR4 Biosecurity Add on as a tool that provides farmers with a risk mitigation plan to prevent the introduction (and/or further spreading) of the TR4 pathogen to, within, and from their GLOBALG.A.P. certified farms. The add-on helps raise awareness about the seriousness of the disease on a global scale by providing added guidelines and information.

In 2017, Guatemala exported $1.32 billion in bananas, equating to 42% of its total $3.18 billion in fruit and vegetable exports. Guatemala is thus also part of the TR4 contingency plan produced by OIRSA, the International Organization for Regional Plant and Animal Health, alongside Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Updating the Technical Services Sector
The TOUR enabled technical participants to deepen their understanding of the key issues in certification, resource management, and risk assessment.

In a session titled 'The Role of Laboratories in Supporting Risk Assessments', Ruth Catalan of TecnoSoluciones, which provides quality control laboratory testing and is a partner of Eurofins in LATAM, one of the world's leading laboratory chains in analytical services, stated the importance of "ensuring reliable data in our analyses so that as companies we can maintain excellence in our processes and provide the best solutions to the different analytical needs that arise from our clients' operations."

Malcom Graham, Country Manager Control Union Guatemala, stressed the significance of the TOUR event as a technical support as it is "ideal for showing Guatemala's progress in sustainability issues as well as connecting with both certified companies and those in the process of achieving their certification."

Rony Del Cid of Fundación Interamericana de Investigación Tropical (FIIT) also confirmed that "the event was very enriching as it provided a better point of view when evaluating the regulations. What has been developed based on market demands is very interesting and the TOUR allows us to be updated about it." FIIT works with rural communities to improve their quality of life through environmental education, sustainable agriculture, hunting regulation, and the development of eco-friendly small businesses.