|Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, Dr. David Estwick|
Government has heard the cries of local producers who are unable to export their products due to the absence of a governmental framework for international sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
To this end, Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development, Dr. David Estwick, has given the assurance that Government is working assiduously to remedy this situation.
Speaking to the Barbados Government Information Service, he said the recently launched National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme (NAHFCP) would go a long way in ensuring that Barbados could compete successfully on a global market scale with its agricultural produce and products.
Some primary agricultural produce is presently exported from Barbados but the new system would enhance the local sector and expand it to include the export of animal by-products and, or plants.
"Our capacity to export chicken and other related animal products is severely restricted largely because Barbados does not meet [certain] international sanitary and phytosanitary standards as set by the World Trade Organization and its subsidiaries such as the World Organization for Animal Health and the International Plant Prevention Convention…all of these set the standards in relation to animal and plant products as they move across international trade," Dr. Estwick explained.
Citing local chicken producers, he indicated they were hampered by the absence of a governmental framework, even though the companies met international production standards.
"They would love to export breast meat which is thriving in New York and Europe but they can’t because we don’t meet the international standards. Even though they themselves, at the level of the production facility would be at the international standard, the governmental institutional structures are not yet there," the Minister emphasised.
Therefore, Dr. Estwick explained that the National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme would focus on the following areas: developing legislation and
regulations to bring the local system up to international standards; establishing the proper infrastructure in terms of laboratory testing capabilities and developing the capacity to monitor and evaluate and bring the entire human resource and technical specifications up to international requirements.
"[It] would give us the capacity to export our products once we meet those international standards…It would mean that Barbadian exporters can now [ship] to the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States," the Agriculture Minister maintained.
Dr. Estwick stressed that the Programme would readily transform Barbados’ international export capacity and this was critical as the island sought to increase its agricultural and animal production.
"… You can’t go far if you can’t export to the world. The same thing is true with respect to our fisheries development…our infrastructure is not yet up to standard where we can export fish to the European Union. So, unless we correct this and do so very speedily, it would mean that we are under-developing the country because of a lack of infrastructure, legislation and regulation and that does not make sense if the individual firms are already up to that standard," he pointed out.
The Agriculture Minister revealed that work on the National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme was far advanced with the legislation, regulation and the general policy of the programme accepted by Cabinet.
He added that the infrastructural development including the designs were being worked on in collaboration with the Town and Country Development Planning Office and technical persons have been hired to design the laboratories.
The NAHFCP is being funded through an investment loan from the Inter-American Development bank to the tune of US $20 million and US $8 million from the Government of Barbados.