KINGSTON — Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has emphasised the need for small island developing nations, such as Jamaica, to establish standards, particularly in relation to food, to ensure their competitiveness in the global marketplace, as well as to safeguard the health and safety of consumers locally and overseas.
Speaking at a welcome reception for delegates participating in a three-day Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) CODEX workshop, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on August 23, Dr. Tufton cited challenges which small developing countries and, in some cases, their larger counterparts encounter in efforts to integrate their economies into the wider network of external markets.
He pointed out that, increasingly, the wider marketplace is becoming networked and interlinked, requiring rules, as opposed to convention, to determine how competitive territories, such as Jamaica, are and how they can be advantageously positioned within the global context. Further, that the global marketplace is currently adopting a “very holistic approach”, in looking at the broader value chain.
It is for these reasons, he said, that CODEX was established, while paying tribute to the FAO and World Health Organisation (WHO) for their role in establishing it.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the FAO and WHO to develop food standards and guidelines, such as codes of practise under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
The main purposes of this programme are: to protect the health of consumers; to ensure fair trade practices in the food trade; and to promote co-ordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
“This is why the awareness of the need to establish standards and promote standards is so critical, and it is why we need training sessions, seminars, functions of this type, in order to promote, not just awareness, but to promote the establishment and the maintenance of these standards,” the Minister explained.
Against this background, Dr. Tufton underscored the need for much work to be undertaken in Jamaica, and other Caribbean territories to establish the requisite standards, which will enhance their positions globally.
“We have not, I think, sufficiently recognised the need of establishing these standards, and implementing these standards, and getting the certification that is required in order to position ourselves in the marketplace. It is something that I encourage, that the Government encourages,” he said.
“We commend those of you who are participating (in the seminar) because, in a sense, you are helping us to set a trend that, hopefully, others will follow,” the Minister added.
Over 35 delegates from 13 English-speaking Caribbean states, including Jamaica, are participating in the three-day workshop, which commenced on August 23.
The workshop will end on August 25, and aims to provide participants with the requisite tools which will enable them to train other persons in matters related to the CODEX structure and procedures; information and databases and participation tools; and the effective usage of the CODEX website.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter