FARMINGTON — New Mexico Department of Agriculture on Tuesday presented a certification to Navajo Agriculture Producers Industry that brings with it a big marketing advantage.

The certificate applauds the organization's good agricultural practices.

"It puts us on a preferred vendor list for consumers," said Aaron Benally, NAPI Potato Crop manager. "It's a pretty good marketing advantage."

The certification is Navajo Agriculture Producers Industry's first. Other New Mexico companies also hoping to make the grade fell flat this year, according to Ed Avalos of New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

"It's all about food safety in the field, in harvesting and in growing the crops," Benally said.

The program requires workers to cover all the loads of produce, wash their hands before going into the fields and send ill people home or into an area that does not bring them in contact with the crops.

"It's about keeping it neat, cleaning and sanitizing the equipment, posting our criteria and not allowing visitors into the fields," Benally said.

"The Navajo Nation should be proud of its enterprise for a job well done," Avalos stated in a press release. "They did a tremendous job."

Stacy Gerk, director of the Agriculture department's Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Program, said "NAPI did an excellent job in fulfilling the audit requests for certification."

To keep its certification, Navajo Agriculture Producers Industry must pass a similar audit annually.


The good agricultural practices audit is a food safety measurement.

It also serves as a marketing tool to buyers in national and international markets, according to Tsosie Lewis, general manager of NAPI.

"This certification will benefit NAPI in years to come and serves as a marketing tool to its buyers in the national and international market," added Avalos in his prepared remarks.

Cornelia de Bruin: