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Government is fashioning a National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme aimed at strengthening the agricultural, health and food control system on the island.

Director of the Government Analytical Services (GAS), Dr. Beverley Wood, revealed this on Monday as she addressed the start of a stakeholders’ consultation that examined three draft pieces of legislation on Plant Health, Animal Health and Food Safety and Quality, soon to be amended to fulfil this objective.  

The stakeholders included members of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, the Barbados Small Business Association and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.

Dr. Wood, in explaining that Barbados had the right to protect its animal, plant and human health, based on its agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS), noted that this included protecting food from contaminants and the protection of the country’s flora and fauna.

Adding that Barbados is obligated to put measures in place that conform with international requirements, she said: “The WTO-SPS does not set any standards or guidelines, but they ask you as a member country to harmonise your Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures with the CODEX Alimentarius, managed out of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with respect to food safety; the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) out of FAO, as well and World Organization for Animal Health (with its French acronym OIE).

“Those three organisations have put a number of standards and guidelines in place and they have asked member countries that when they are setting their standards and guidelines that they refer and use these organisations to create theirs.”

The Director of GAS, who also noted that Barbados’ legislation was dated, with some going back to 1958 and the 1960s, stated that the country had examined its agricultural, health and food control system and recognised where there were gaps and weaknesses.

Explaining the importance of this, she added: “The basis for your system would be your legislative framework because your trading partners will look at your legislation and what you have in place and your systems, with respect to the management of animal health, plant health and food safety, to determine whether you are going to trade with them or not.

“Now, Barbados, in reviewing the system, is not only focusing on our ability to trade with our regional or our international partners, but to ensure the safety of our animal health and our plant health and also to make sure that our resident and visitor population have food which is of good quality.”

She noted that the island had engaged the services of a consultant to help examine the gaps and weaknesses within the three pieces of legislation and recommend changes.

Under the Regional Sanitary and Phytosanitary Project, funded by the European Union, through the 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF), CARICOM had draft model legislation prepared in the three areas for member states to use in “crafting their own” legislation.

The series of consultations conclude tomorrow, Friday, October 15, with presentations on all three Bills by Port Authority officials, custom brokers, shipping agents and airlines.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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