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    • The Research and Development Plant Health laboratory at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station, in St. Catherine, is to be refurbished this fiscal year, with an allocation of $465.7 million.
    • The sum will also be used to construct a canine holding area at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew and a contraband room at the Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay.
    • The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

    The Research and Development Plant Health laboratory at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station, in St. Catherine, is to be refurbished this fiscal year, with an allocation of $465.7 million.

    To be disbursed under the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme, the money, which is  contained in the 2016/17 Estimates of Expenditure, will also be used to refurbish quarantine facilities at two Veterinary Services Division (VSD) parish offices and purchase computers and software for Lab network and equipment for seven parish offices and quarantine labs.

    The sum will also be used to construct a canine holding area at Hope Gardens, St. Andrew and a contraband room at the Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay.

    The project aims to: improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector through: increased capacity of small and medium farmers to access national and international markets; improve performance of the country’s food quality and safety management systems; and foster the development of agricultural and agro-processing value chains.

    It is further anticipated that for the 2016/17 period, lab equipment will be procured for the Ministry of Health (MOH) Environment Health Unit, and  the laboratory at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) will be expanded.  In addition, equipment and supplies for food safety laboratories are to be purchased; and consultants are to be engaged to establish the food safety laboratory network, review food borne illness surveillance and emergency response systems, and prepare proposal for modernising food inspection and registration systems.

    Four agro-parks are also to be certified in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and farmers are to be trained in certification and traceability grades and standards, personal protective equipment and environmental management. In addition, a laboratory network is to be established for food safety, animal health and plant health with quality assurance systems; and systems are to be implemented to safeguard local animal and public health systems.

    Physical achievements up to December, 2015 included the staging of 10 marketing negotiation and skills workshops for producer organizations (POs); the signing of a Technical Cooperation Agreement with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to develop marketing platform; and the hiring of an international agribusiness marketing consultant to facilitate the development of the export market platform.

    Other physical achievements under the project are: approval of the Food Safety policy  by Cabinet and an implementation plan being developed by National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Committee (NAHFSC);  performance evaluation report on Food safety prepared; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) and risk analysis training conducted;  laboratory supplies procured for the Veterinary Services Division (VSD) laboratory;  and National Plant Health and Animal Health Policies approved by Cabinet.

    In addition, three value chain managers have been recruited; three town hall meetings were arranged and executed to engage stakeholders in the assessment of 47 agricultural enterprises. In addition, infrastructure works at several ago parks have been completed.

    The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank.

    It was originally slated to run from November, 2010 to November, 2015. A further extension will see the project ending in May, 2017.