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Managing Director of the Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank, Pamella McLean, has commended the move by Dr. Andre Gordon, to take a temporary leave of absence as President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), to tackle the problem affecting the exportation of ackee.
The Bank has expressed concern about the delays being experienced by ackee processors in exporting their product.
Mrs. McLean pointed out that Ex-Im’s concerns stemmed from the fact that the bank has financed a number of agro-processors, helping them to upgrade their plant to achieve Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) status, and also to provide working capital to the sector.
“If the sector is not able to achieve a timely turn-around of their receivables, not only does it spell havoc for their own cash flow and operations, but it will also negatively affect us here at Ex-Im. A lot of resources has been put into this sector, not only by Ex-Im, and we certainly would not like to see a reversal taking place,” she said.
In December last year, the Bureau of Standards, Jamaica (BSJ) said it would do batch-by-batch testing of all ackee destined for export, after several cases were refused entry to the United States, due to unacceptably high levels of the toxin, hypoglycin.
However, the Agro-Processors Association is expressing concern about the length of time it is taking the BSJ to do the testing, noting that the ackee processors were losing money.
“The Ex-Im Bank is exhorting all parties concerned to quickly resolve all the issues, in order that the sector can be facilitated to maximize the excellent potential which it has to contribute to the levels of export growth for the country. It is in the interest of all the stakeholders in the sector to find a speedy resolution,” Mrs. McLean said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell, has said the Government would complete a major study in two months, to identify the factors which have resulted in the intolerable levels of hypoglycin in ackee for export.
The Minister said that initial investigations indicate that some exporters were not adhering to prescribed regulations, noting that some processors were purchasing ackees, “where the process for ripening has not been adhered to”.
Mr. Paulwell pointed out that several stakeholders would be participating in the study.