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Jamaica is benefiting from intervention aimed at strengthening the value chain for the production of indigenous Black Castor Oil.

The support is being provided under the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) component of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Programme, implementation of which is being spearheaded by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

Providing details during a digital media sensitisation on Thursday (October 29), CROSQ’s Technical Officer in charge of Quality Promotions, Latoya Burnham, said that the value chain intervention for Jamaica entails an examination of all activities involved in the production of Black Castor Oil, from raw materials to the finished product.

“Essentially… we bring stakeholders together… including buyers… to discuss what the quality issues are based on their observations, and what they would like to see in terms of the quality of the product, and what we need to implement to actually have a functioning, effective and revenue-earning value chain,” she said.

Ms. Burnham noted that while there is high global demand for Jamaican Black Castor Oil, “the producers need technical and training inputs to build a really profitable export value chain”.

“The issues related to standards, regulations, quality control, funding and coordination, in addition to effective branding and marketing need, to be addressed to ensure the success of the indigenous Black Castor Oil industry in Jamaica to meet the worldwide demand,” she pointed out.

Also to benefit from value chain intervention are Dominica (cocoa), the Dominican Republic (coconut), Belize (fuels and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and The Bahamas (the cascarilla plant).

“Each of these value chains [was] identified by the respective countries as the products needing… assistance because it is being recognised that there is tremendous potential export value.

“So we are hoping [for] each of these chains that by the end of the process that we go through, we would have identified what the issues are and started to put measures in place to actually address those quality issues,” Ms. Burnham said.

In total, 16 Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states are slated to benefit under the TBT component of the 11th European EPA.

The others are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The component aims to address issues that impede intra-regional trade and preclude the region from fully entering international markets.

Specific focus, to this end, is being placed on identifying and closing quality gaps in key sectors and organisations, promoting a quality culture throughout the region and strengthening the regional quality infrastructure.

Ms. Burnham advised that Jamaica’s National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) is among five state conformity assessment bodies across the region that have been selected for accreditation under the programme.

Additionally, she said the country’s private-sector interests, among others across the region, are in line to benefit from the implementation of courses designed to address some of the quality issues impacting these stakeholders.

“We have done some assessments of what their needs are, and we are still in this process, to see exactly how we can start creating [those] courses. This will be a demand-driven process and the courses will be harmonised across countries so that any country within the CARIFORUM network can benefit,” Ms. Burnham added.

In his remarks, Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) Executive Director, Hopeton Heron, said that CROSQ, which he chairs, “is seeking to support CARIFORUM states in furthering the implementation of their EPA commitments and meaningfully reaping the benefits of these agreements”.

The EPA Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, is being undertaken over 54 months with EDF financing support of €4.5 million.

The EDF is a development aid programme for the Caribbean that supports the EPA, which facilitates a free trade area between the region and the European Union (EU).

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