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Local manufacturers will get an opportunity to participate in the development of standards for value-added agricultural products and further expand their markets in terms of agro-processing and food exportation, at the upcoming 26th session of the Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables (CCPFV).

The meeting, scheduled for the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel, Montego Bay, from October 15-19, is being co-hosted by Jamaica and the United States of America (USA).             

State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says this is the first time that a small developing country like Jamaica has successfully negotiated with the US to engage in such a partnership.          

Among matters to be discussed at the CCPFV meeting is the proposed draft Codex Standards for certain canned fruits and certain quick frozen vegetables. Also to be examined are: sampling plans, including metrological provisions for controlling minimum drained weight of canned fruits and vegetables; and food additive provisions for processed fruits and vegetables.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on October 10, the State Minister noted that it is critical for Jamaica to meet this standard to be able to export across the globe in various areas.

"Given the potential contribution of agriculture and agro-industry to gross domestic product (GDP), this is a very important conference, because Jamaica must meet these standards set by the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed into law by President Barack Obama last year,” she said.

"The law speaks about standards that we must meet from the very planting of the seed to fertilizing, reaping, exporting and to the table, so it is very important for the nation to meet these standards in order to access markets to increase exports,” the State Minister pointed out.

The meeting, she noted, will give information as to what the standards are in other areas of export and agro-processing and present avenues "to expand on the amount and the variety that we now export."

She argued that Jamaica co-hosting this three-day event with the United States will increase visibility for the country internationally.

“It boons well for the future of Jamaica in terms of agro-processing and food exportation as there could be many other partnerships that can be forged out of this. There will be many other countries attending, such as Australia, Chile, Ghana, Nigeria, France, and Spain, so it is possible that we could expand our whole export industry into many of these other countries,” she said.

The CCPFV is a sub-committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which was created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts,such as codes of practice, under a joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.

Delegates representing some 31 member countries are expected to participate.