Food safety at the level of production is mandatory for health and safety of consumers. There are numerous measures that farmers can take to minimize the risk of contamination of the farm produce. The first thing that farmers can do is to prepare the land in a manner that optimally reduces food contamination. Therefore, it is mandatory to check that the soil has correct pH before planting. High acidity or basicity in the soil not only reduces the potato crop yield, but also results in the precipitation of harmful organic salts in the potato tubers which can adversely affect the consumers. Also, planting of potato in soil with high acids or bases can lead to the retention of strong mineral acids in the soil which can reduce the shelf life of potato in the store or the market.
Another thing that farmers can do to ensure food safety in the initial production stages of potato is putting the correct animal manures and fertilizers. Animal manure and inorganic fertilizers have differing concentrations of acids and minerals that can be taken up into the potato tubers and lower the quality. Planting is thus a critical control point (CCP) as provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the World. For example, animal manure that drains in the same trench with industrial chemicals or the one which is mixed with veterinary chemicals from cattle spraying is not suitable for soil enrichment. Additionally, fertilizers with high chemical concentration cause potato tubers to retain agricultural residues which have been shown to cause cancers and other human diseases.
Irrigation of the potato crop is also a critical control point in which substandard agricultural practices can result. Water used for crop irrigation should come from safe sources like ground water, rain, and lakes and dams. Water draining in contaminated swamps or sewage pipes should not be used for crop irrigation since it can destabilize he acidity of the soil and result to unsafe potato tubers. The foliar fertilizers mixed with irrigation water should not have a high retention capacity in the soil to prevent the contamination of potato tuber.
Pest control is also a safety measure in the production of food crops. There are different pests that attack potato crop in the field. Some worms bore the potato tuber and lay their eggs as well depositing chemicals in the tuber. When consumers take potatoes infected with these worms, they may develop illness since some pest chemicals are poisonous.
Selection of potato tubers for planting should conform to the safety guidelines. Correct potato tubers for planting should be obtained from reputable companies that produce products free from harmful genetic modifications. Genetically modified food, when not appropriately regulated, can result to lifestyle diseases. Therefore, planting potatoes that do not adhere to genetic quality standards can be dangerous for human health.
Field training is often forgotten as the crucial determinant of good agricultural practice. Farmers should thus be trained on the correct farming methods that ascertain safety production of food crops. The training module should include among other things the effects of poor agricultural practice on yield and food safety. The government and the private sector should take the initiative offering field trips to farmers and incentivize them to produce safe crops. Topics on safe irrigation, soil preparation and agrochemical residue come in handy for farmers dealing with huge fields of potato.
Critical Analysis of Remedial Measures
Soil pH stabilization can be accomplished through soil sampling. There are different methods of soil sampling that farmers can use in testing the soil pH. If the soil is found to be too acidic or basic, mineral fertilizers can be used to rectify the pH. However, Mineral fertilizers can have extreme effects on the soil. Additionally, soil rectified for acid base imbalance with an aim of cultivating a single crop like potato is not suitable for planting nay other crop unless the pH is stabilized again.
Scrutinizing manure for planting will significantly reduce fertilization induced food harm. Farmers can decide to use manure that is not contaminated with pesticides on insecticides in the farm. However, getting such kind of manure is not easy since cattle spraying happen often in the cow sheds. Farmers may decide to use manure that only comes from cow sheds in which spraying is not regular, although the manure content will be low. Since animal manure release nutrients to the soil at a slow rate, the farmer will require a lot of time to nourish the soil. Another option is constructing a compost pit, although it is expensive to do so.
Water for irrigation should only come from sources that are free from industrial waste. Farmers can decide to filter water that is suspected to be contaminated before allowing it to the farms. However, filtration of water in quantities that will support large scale farming is close to impossible. Therefore, if rain water or dam water is not accessible, farmers can still use the contaminated water, although they should reduce the frequency of irrigation
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