Plant Quarantine Division Helping to Boost Trade

Photo: Dave Reid Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, addresses a recent Think Tank at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) headquarters on Half-Way Tree Road, Kingston.

Story Highlights

  • The Plant Quarantine Division (PQD) in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries is playing a key role in helping to boost trade in agricultural produce and ensuring that citizens have access to safe, quality foods.
  • Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dermon Spence, said the expansion of trade in part of Government’s strategic objectives for the sector.
  • Mr. Spence, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, said the Division is the first line of defence in preventing the entry of diseases into Jamaica through the issuing of import permits, inspection of import/export cargo and baggage at ports of entry, seizures of import/export cargo and baggage and the execution of post-entry inspections.

The Plant Quarantine Division (PQD) in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries is playing a key role in helping to boost trade in agricultural produce and ensuring that citizens have access to safe, quality foods.

Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Dermon Spence, said the expansion of trade in part of Government’s strategic objectives for the sector.

“Our strategic mission… involves several activities that are critical to supporting the quality of produce to ensure that we consistently meet the standards that are established by the importing country, to show that we understand what the rules are that govern the trade of these produce,” he noted.

This includes ensuring that exporters adhere to sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to protect human, animal and plant life from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms. Certain products require such certification by importing countries.

Mr. Spence, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, said the Division is the first line of defence in preventing the entry of diseases into Jamaica through the issuing of import permits, inspection of import/export cargo and baggage at ports of entry, seizures of import/export cargo and baggage and the execution of post-entry inspections.

“This speaks to the Government’s investment in protecting the borders from these pests and diseases, to make Jamaica a safe place to do business,” he noted.

He said the PQD’s inspection and certification services ensure that produce leaving and entering the country will stand up to scrutiny and still have the desired nutritional and taste benefits that they offer.

Mr. Spence said compliance and enforcement of the measures are critical to protecting international trading relationships and securing ready markets for exports.

He noted that when breaches occur at the ports “the impact is rippling and severe”.

He pointed out that one pest entering the country could wipe out an entire species, be it animal or plant life, “so there is no room for tardiness from our officers and no room for disobedience from the persons travelling to and from Jamaica”.

“If the public disregards the warnings of the PQD and smuggle plant-based items in the country, the livelihood of farmers and, by extension, the economy of the country can be ruined,” he said.

“Everyone wins when the regulations of the PQD are upheld… farmers realising the benefits of their toil, lifting their standard of living and ensuring that we are able to move the country forward in terms of production and alleviating poverty through increased exports,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Spence cited the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pre-clearance programme as an important measure in helping to enhance agricultural exports.

“This programme ensures that products coming from Jamaica are pre-cleared and experience fast track processing through the US market. The significant realisation of the benefits under this programme would mean that there is a greater level of efficiency with which the product gets to move through the system… and with improved efficiency, it reduces cost,” he explained.

He said the arrangement gives farmers and other stakeholders a sure market and the opportunity to target specific crops for expanded production.

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