JIS News

A three-day regional consultation to access the Phytosanitary status of 15 CARIFORUM member countries got underway today (February 6), at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke explained that the workshop was a follow-up to a phytosanitary capacity evaluation exercise that was conducted last year, to evaluate the region’s plant health status, and its capacity to manage and prevent the introduction of pests and diseases using an evaluation tool developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for this purpose.
Minister Clarke noted that Jamaica, as well as the other participating countries, are signatories to the International Plant Protection Convention, which establishes the basic rules for food safety in agricultural production, and as such, the Ministry had a vested interest in maintaining a disease-free environment.
He revealed that the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce; the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), and the Cabinet Office are moving to establish a new food safety import/export one-stop shop at Newport West in Kingston.
“The major objectives of this one-stop shop are to: serve as a central location to co-ordinate all inspection processes; to standardize inspection procedures to better ensure produce wholesomeness; to improve service delivery to importers; to achieve speedier processing time; and to reduce duplication of inspection functions, thereby ensuring compliance with international standards,” Mr. Clarke said.
The Minister said that in support of this initiative, the Plant Quarantine Unit has developed an operations manual detailing document inspection procedures for imports and exports.
Mr. Clarke further noted that following a number of national consultations last year, Jamaica now boasts two first-rate inspection facilities at the Norman Manley and Sangster International Airports.
He said that through the ASSP, these two facilities, which were recently upgraded, provide inspection and certification for all fresh imported agricultural produce, as well as produce exported from the island.
“In Kingston, the warehouse has been expanded and the fumigated chamber and cold room have both been refurbished. In Montego Bay, the offices have been refurbished and a fumigation facility has been erected,” he stated.
The Minister noted that in March of 2004, a plant health surveillance and pest response system was established to identify and respond to any threat or actual incidents of dangerous plant pests. This surveillance was conducted in collaboration with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Research and Development and Plant Quarantine Divisions in the Ministry.
The major objective of the consultation is to identify national and common regional constraints to improve phytosanitary capacity and capability among CARIFORUM countries to determine mechanisms for the development of national strategies for addressing the weaknesses, strengths, opportunities, and threats identified by these phytosanitary capacity evaluation exercises.
This three-day workshop is expected to enable participating countries to determine their strengths and weaknesses in relation to: Phytosanitary legislation; pest diagnostic capabilities; pest risk analysis; surveillance; exotic pest response systems; inspection systems; and export certification.

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