Significant Strides Made in Protecting Human, Animal and Plant Health – Minister Clarke


Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke has said that Jamaica has made significant strides in relation to the implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures for the protection of human, animal and plant health in keeping with the World Trade Organisation Agreement requirements.
In keeping with the country’s compliance record, a new food safety import/export one-stop shop will soon be commissioned at the seaport in Kingston.
Mr. Clarke was speaking on (July 31) at the World Trade Organization (WTO)/Inter-American Development Bank/Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Workshop on the Agreement on Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS) Measures for the Caribbean at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
The one stop shop is one of the Ministry’s latest efforts to comply with SPS requirements governing agricultural trade.
According to Mr. Clarke, the objectives of the one-stop shop is ” to serve as a central location to coordinate all inspection processes; to standardize inspection procedures to better ensure product wholesomeness; to improve service delivery to importers; to fast-track processing time; and to ensure that all international standards for export are met.”
The facility is being established through the collaborative efforts of the three ministries with oversight for sanitary and phytosanitary issues, Agriculture, Health and Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce.
Mr. Clarke also informed that a food safety policy is being drafted by the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Coordinating Committee, which he has been charged with, among other things, “ensuring compliance with international food safety requirements.”
The Policy will drive the establishment of a National Food Safety Agency, which will regulate activities relating to food safety and agricultural health.
“In keeping with the WTO/SPS Agreement, the Government has also established a Notification/Enquiry Point to inform all signatories of newly appointed SPS measures, through an Internet-based system,” he added.
Detailing the various measures undertaken by the Ministry’s Plant Quarantine and Veterinary Services Division, to satisfy the SPS Agreement, Mr. Clarke cited the establishment of a Pest Risk Analysis Committee, which conducts analyses and make informed assessments on the sanitary and phystosanitary status of produce from countries wishing to export produce to Jamaica.
The division has also set up inspection facilities at the island’s two international airports, to facilitate speedy pre-clearance of shipments of Jamaican produce to United States points-of-sale, and a “first world” cargo cooling facility that was recently opened at the Export Complex in Kingston to facilitate shipments to the European market. A $4 million Plant Health Surveillance and Pest Response Team was established to put in place an early warning mechanism for identifying and responding to incidences of plant pest and diseases.
To ensure that international food safety standards are adhered to, in relation to imports and exports of foods of animal origin, he informed that the Veterinary Division has boosted its National Quarantine Programme with “the acquisition of a state of the art Risk Analysis Computer-based Programme” and also established a Livestock Identification Programme.
“I am proud to say that the Veterinary Services Division’s Residue Biochemical Laboratory was the only government-operated facility to have been selected for adoption of the international standards’ organization accreditation, which is the globally accepted benchmark for testing and calibration laboratories,” Mr. Clarke declared.
Mr. Clarke also pointed to the National Avian Influenza Preparedness Programme, which the Division is presently implementing in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Pan American Health Organisation.
“Jamaica has made significant strides in relation to the implementation of SPS Measures .nonetheless, we are acutely aware that there is much more to be done in order to achieve full compliance with international standards, as they relate to trade in agricultural products. In this regard, the Government of Jamaica is fully committed to moving this process forward,” he told the approximately 100 delegates from Caribbean state, who will be addressing the SPS trade concerns over the next few days.
The workshop will run from July 31 to August 2 and will address Caribbean-related issues, WTO dispute settlement system and the SPS disputes; transparency; coordination and raising awareness; risk analysis; trends in international harmonization; and participation of developing countries in standard setting, and related emerging issues.

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