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Story Highlights

  • A total of $67.9 million worth of laboratory equipment has been handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
  • Most of the equipment, valuing approximately $60 million, will go to the Chemistry and Microbiology laboratories at the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division in Kingston.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, expressed gratitude for the new pieces of equipment and the role they will play to modernize the labs.

A total of $67.9 million worth of laboratory equipment has been handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to boost its capacity for product testing and certification for compliance with international standards.

Most of the equipment, valuing approximately $60 million, will go to the Chemistry and Microbiology laboratories at the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division in Kingston, while the rest will be installed at the Plant Virology and Plant Pathology laboratories at Bodles Research Station, in St. Catherine.

The items were presented on March 19, at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Veterinary Services Division, in Kingston.  They form part of the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Capacity Building Project, which is currently being administered by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, expressed gratitude for the new pieces of equipment and the role they will play to modernize the labs.

He  said that ultimately, the goal is to receive ISO 17025 certification for the laboratories, which is important, as it addresses the internationally recognized standard under the provisions of the World Treaty Organisation (WTO) Agreement on technical barriers to trade.

“Projects like these, funded by the European Union, continue to assist us in achieving our objectives in keeping with the ministry’s aim of modernizing our entities and divisions, so as to enable us to effectively facilitate agricultural exports and ensure compliance to global food safety regulations,” Mr.  Clarke said.

The items include: a rotavapor, refrigerator, safety cabinet, water softener, 10 desktop computers and an LC/MS 640 machine. The project also provides training, participation in international conferences, and study tours to benchmark the Ministry’s laboratories with its international counterparts.

“This equipment will enable us to concentrate samples for analysis; store fish and meat samples before analysis; provide a sterile environment for microbiological work being carried out, as well as analyse biotoxins, veterinary drugs and pesticides. We will also be able to do data gathering and analysis to produce reports for internal and external clients,” the Minister explained.

Director General, PIOJ, Colin Bullock, said an objective of the EPA Capacity Building Project is to create an enabling environment to support increased compliance of Jamaican agriculture and agribusiness exports with international standards, so that they can maximize on opportunities presented by large markets, such as the EU.

The Director General informed that through the project, training is being carried out four laboratories.

Mr. Bullock expressed deep appreciation to the EU for its contribution and commitment to long term development in Jamaica.  “With this support Jamaica is on its way to achieving world class agricultural health and food quality systems, attaining a level of compliance which will enhance our domestic food security and international competitiveness,” he said.

He further noted that the equipment will go a far way in building the capacity and infrastructure of the facilities which support the export industry, in order to promote competitiveness and food security, which is one of the anticipated outcomes of the country’s National Export Strategy.

Head of the Economic Section, Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Achim Schaffert, said the EPA should help to create a business and investment friendly environment where trade spurs growth and development.

He also pointed out that the EPA is a driver for change and much needed reforms. “It aims at ensuring a stable, predictable and transparent business environment, thereby helping CARIFORUM countries to attract more foreign direct investment and to make further progress with regional integration. It will also facilitate the access of firms to competitive, intermediary goods and services, which in turn will increase the corporate sector’s competitiveness,” he added.

The EU is the largest provider of grant assistance to Jamaica amounting to some €1.2 billion since 1975. There are currently 17 ongoing projects in Jamaica, which total €220.1 million ($28.9 billion), and five more in the pipeline.