JIS News

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating in the food industry are among stakeholders to benefit from capacity-building interventions, including improved market access, under the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) Food Safety Management System Expansion Project.

Funded by the European Union (EU), the initiative, which was officially launched during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday (March 17), seeks to improve the local eco-system in support of agro-business growth and to improve the capacity of MSMEs to export.

It will address the immediate capacity-building needs of the NCBJ and by extension benefit food businesses/food chain operators locally and those in the export market.

The project targets MSMEs across the agriculture and agro-business value chain, food manufacturers and food-safety practitioners, including auditors, technical experts, among others.

In addition, under the project, the NCBJ will now offer International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 22000 Food Safety Management System certification. This system outlines food-safety requirements for any organisation in the food chain.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, who addressed the ceremony, welcomed the project, noting that it will serve to “foster the creation of an enabling institutional environment to support the agricultural and agro-business export sectors, in line with our National Export Strategy and the National Food Safety Implementation Plan policy”.

Mr. Shaw said the project will also serve to reduce the cost of doing business and increase market penetration as MSMEs utilise their certified safety management systems to open doors regionally and navigate regional trade barriers with improved standing in CARICOM.

“The spin-offs of that are job creation, increased brand visibility for Jamaica as our MSMEs penetrate new markets and deepen their foothold in others, armed with certificates confirming that our goods and services are of a high quality and meet international market requirements,” he argued.

In the meantime, Mr. Shaw said he is pleased that the project is the first of two being implemented in Jamaica and financed by the CARICOM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building, with the larger objective of improving regional integration and trade.

Launched last year, and managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Standby Facility is a pool of funds in excess of €8 million available to 15 participating countries in the region.

The allocation falls under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), which is the main instrument for EU aid for development cooperation in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the Overseas Countries and Territories.

The EDF is available to trade-related organisations for the implementation of country-specific activities focused on improving trade, the economy and lives of citizens.

In her remarks, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, said that with the execution of this two-year Standby facility project, there will be “enhanced capacity to provide better, more efficient food-certification services to exporters, because we know how important it is… you [cannot] get your product in the market without a certificate nowadays”.

“We hope that our project, which has an amount of approximately $28 million, will help to improve the market access for food producers through this certification… and that it will help to increase exports to regional and also to international markets. We very much hope to receive products from Jamaica to the EU and that all of this, ultimately, will contribute to the economic growth of Jamaica,” she said.

Representatives from CARICOM, the Standby Facility, CDB, Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) and the NCBJ, also brought remarks during the event.

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