Barbados is set to launch its first ever National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme (NAHFCP) next Wednesday, March 23.

The project will ensure that Barbados can compete successfully on a global market scale with respect to agricultural produce and products.

The objective of the programme is to enhance the competitiveness of the local agricultural and fisheries sectors by raising the National Agricultural Health and Food Control System to international safety standards.

It is being funded through an investment loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) of some US$20 million and US$8 million from the Government of Barbados.??

The first phase of the project will involve the development of the legal and institutional framework to develop draft comprehensive legislation and corresponding institutional arrangement for the NAHFCP.

The second phase will involve architectural and engineering designs, which include a new laboratory complex and improvements in agricultural quarantine and food inspection surveillance facilities at the local air and sea ports.

The NAHFCP seeks to tackle issues such as outdated legislation, multiple jurisdictions and weaknesses in surveillance, monitoring and enforcement by employing a multi-agency approach. This would involve the Ministries of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development; Health; and Trade and Commerce joining forces to manage issues related to the National Agricultural Health and Food Control Programme.

Barbados is a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures, and as a result, it has the right to enforce measures necessary to protect human, animal and plant life.

The NAHFCP was conceptualised to ensure that Barbados’ animal health, veterinary public health, plant health and food safety systems are such that they comply with international standards such as the World Organisation for Animal Health, the International Plant Protection Convention and Codex Alimentarius.

These bodies are recognised by the WTO as setting international standards to help ensure that the measures taken by governments are harmonised and are not used as unjustified barriers to trade.

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