- The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has so far disbursed more than $10 million to exporters in grants to exporters.
- The programme is achieving its objectives, with 11 operations already benefitting from the assistance.
- As a result of the assistance the beneficiaries have been able to make improvements in their respective packaging houses.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has so far disbursed more than $10 million to exporters in grants, to assist them with improving operations in order to meet the requirements of the United States Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Following a tour of two exporting facilities in Western Jamaica on Friday, February 7, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke said he was very pleased with the improvements by local exporters.
He noted that the programme is achieving its objectives, with 11 operations already benefitting from the assistance. This will be extended to 20 during the course of the year.
“Our commitment is to do whatever we can to make sure that we achieve the food safety standards necessary not only for exports, but to make our people aware of what food safety means, and we are well on our way. I think we have some very cooperative people working with and I think we will achieve what we have set out to achieve,” he stated.
He pointed out that as a result of the assistance the beneficiaries have been able to make improvements in their respective packaging houses, allowing them to handle more export volumes.
He said that one of the aims of the programme is to increase exports and bring more foreign exchange into the country.
“We have a difficulty with what we import as against what we export, and therefore even if we were not able to bring down the importation substantially, if we can lift exports to a level it would put us in a position where we can live”, he said.
Meanwhile Omar Plummer, who operates a food exporting facility in Burnt Ground, Hanover, told JIS News that the help he has receive has allowed him to hire more staff, and beef up his operations by increasing weekly container shipments. He said the improvements in his operations will enable farmers to earn more.
Victor Wright, of Supreme Quality Exports, in Frome, Westmoreland, also spoke highly about the programme, noting that “not only did we get financial assistance for the physical infrastructure, we also got some technical advice as to how to better allow that facility to work for us”.
He said that he is extremely satisfied with the programme as it has helped with increasing output and minimized losses.
Director General, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Don McGlashan, told JIS News that the food safety measures are applicable to both the export and domestic markets, adding that food safety compliance should always be viewed as a work in progress.
The FSMA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. Its objective is to ensure that the United States’ food supply is safe by preventing contamination. The Act therefore gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed.