JIS News

In an effort to expedite trading, the Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of developing an automated trace system, for the electronic processing of import permits and export phytosanitary certificates.
“We are now at the end of the pilot phase for the import aspect of it, and we are looking to fully implement this by January 2009,” Chief Plant Quarantine Produce Inspector at the Ministry of Agriculture, Shelia Harvey, tells JIS News in an interview.
“This process is easier when someone is able to go online and go to the Ministry’s website, which is www.moa.gov.jm, and go to the section that says ‘import inspection’ or ‘import permit’, and they are able to fill out online and the permits are processed online,” she adds.
The Chief Plant Quarantine Produce Inspector emphasises that the new measures will facilitate trade, as the process is much easier than someone sitting down and typing.
“We will be better able to have a hold on what is coming in and what is prohibited. We are able to go online and issue permits, what they are for, who is bringing in the items and see where exactly they are coming from,” Mrs. Harvey explains.
She points out that currently, there is a hold on certain locally grown vegetables, such as cabbage, tomato and carrot, “as locally, we can satisfy these items, so nobody is able to bring these in.”
“The process for bringing in fresh fruits and vegetables is that you apply for a permit online. We still have the manual system, where you can apply using the form that we have here. The permit should be issued before the things are ordered abroad and the permit should be sent to the persons you are buying the things from, so they can comply with our declarations,” Mrs. Harvey explains.
She informs that after making an appointment, the Plant Quarantine Office will arrange for inspection of the goods.
“At inspection, you should have your import permit, the original phytosanitary certificate, a copy of the invoice, the original receipt from the Ministry for import inspection and your customs import entry. Without any of these documents, your shipment will not be processed,” she stresses.
In addition, the Ministry will be bringing on stream, a new unit called the Pest Risk Analysis Unit, in January 2009, which will assess the pest risk of certain crops or produce coming into the country.
“We are getting a lot of requests from countries that we have not been trading with, for importation of various fresh fruits and vegetables. But, in order for us to give permission for them to come or to refuse them, we have to do a pest risk analysis, and this is a list of activities in which the probability and severity of impact of a particular pest is assessed, and the means of reducing these are evaluated and the results shared with stakeholders,” Mrs. Harvey says.
She points out that with a dedicated Pest Risk Unit, they will be able to do 20 or 30 pest risk analyses per year, adding that currently, there are persons doing pest risk analysis, but they are not dedicated to the process, and hence there is a backlog.
“So, I would get calls from persons who would like to bring things from the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Those are countries that we have not been trading with, in fresh fruits and vegetables, and the same for us who want to export to other countries that we haven’t been exporting to. We have to prepare information for those countries, in order for them to conduct pest risk analysis,” the Chief Plant Quarantine Produce Inspector notes.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Harvey is urging traders to comply with the regulations of the Ministry, and persons who need further information can call the Plant Quarantine Unit at 977-0637 or 977-6401.

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