REQUEST FOR QUALITY CHECKS IN PNG HORTICULTURAL INDUSTRY

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MT. HAGEN, Papua New Guinea (January 7, 1999 - The National)---PNG's horticultural industry urgently needs a quality standard system to improve uniformity and quality of produce sold in the market place, recommends the Fresh Produce Development Company (FPDC).

The Mt. Hagen-based company said a quality standard system is required, allowing development of product quality specifications for each crop. Implementation of the system, the company noted, would increase sales and profitability.

Rita Pumuye, a quality improvement advisor with the FPDC, said that such as system must be developed and implemented if the industry is to grow and prosper.

"There must also be an independent audit system that will check to make sure the growers, wholesalers and retailers comply with the set standards. A neutral body operating in the horticultural industry must audit these specifications to make sure the industry is complying with set standards," Ms. Pumuye said.

She said the specifications for each crop must be clear, simple and concise and the system must be well controlled and managed to make it work. As well, there must be regular training provided to make sure people understand the system and this must be updated to accommodate changes in the industry, she added.

Ms. Pumuye said there was no one specific standard system used to determine the good quality of each crop as different standards made up a quality standard system and, therefore, these different standards should be developed and used together.

"The management of a horticultural business must enforce the use of these standards both at the employee and the customer level so that everyone is aware of what to do and expect.

"To determine a good quality according to set standards, we need to look at developing standards in color, size, defects, fruit weight per box, box labels and maintaining different price structures from grower to the consumer," she said.

Ms. Pumuye said, at present, those involved in the horticultural industry were not maintaining quality levels when buying the produce, but quality of produce should be graded and prices charged accordingly.

"In order to develop standards, the problems must be recognized and growers, wholesalers, retailers and a development agency like FPDC should come together to discuss and work closely to produce quality manuals, procedures, work instructions, records, job descriptions, product specifications, training manuals and other necessary documents."

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