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Story Highlights

  • The recent acquisition of laboratory equipment will have far reaching effects on the Ministry and the country.
  • The goal is to receive ISO 17025 certification for the laboratories, which addresses the internationally recognized standard.
  • The laboratory equipment was acquired under the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Capacity Building Project.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the recent acquisition of laboratory equipment will have far reaching effects on the Ministry and the country.

“The receipt of the equipment is very timely as it will assist us in fulfilling some of our strategic objectives, including the upgrading of our Plant Quarantine/Product Inspection Branch into a Division; to enable us to effectively facilitate agricultural exports; and ensure compliance to global food safety regulations, as we enhance laboratory operations at the Veterinary Services Division, with a view towards seeking laboratory accreditation,” Mr. Clarke said.

He informed that 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 Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on technical barriers to trade.

The laboratory equipment was acquired under the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Capacity Building Project. The project, which is valued at $240.8 million (€2.25 million), aims to build the capacity and infrastructure of facilities which support the export industry, in order to promote export competitiveness and food security.

“This EPA project has far-reaching benefits for us as a country. Not only will we see increased access to export markets, but it will contribute to environmental sustainability, good governance and poverty reduction. And, with increased and diversified exports, employment should be impacted positively,” Mr. Clarke said.

The Minister further added that it will also lead to greater recommended control in the use of chemicals in agricultural production; wider implementation of environmentally friendly management schemes; and greater emphasis on international food safety standards, which will have a positive impact on domestic standards, thereby allowing access to safer food for Jamaicans.

The items include: a rotavapor, refrigerator, safety cabinet, water softener, 10 desktop computers and an LC/MS 640 machine. They have been placed at the Ministry’s Veterinary Services Division in Kingston, and the Plant Virology and Plant Pathology laboratories at Bodles Research Station in St. Catherine.

Mr. Clarke informed that this project is one of several that the Ministry has implemented with assistance from the European Union.

Others include the recently completed Banana Support Programme, which benefitted over 30,000 banana and plantain farmers and others in the traditional banana dependent communities; the Banana Accompanying Measures Programme, being implemented over 48 months in St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. James and St. Mary, and sugar cane resuscitation under the Sugar Transformation Programme.