STANDARDS Link Vol 3 Issue 15 - National Dialogue on Agriculture
National Dialogue on Agriculture
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Ministry of Agriculture hosted a workshop of key stakeholders in the agricultural sector in a discussion of interventions to strengthen services which support improvements in that sector.
The workshop, a quality infrastructure (QI) dialogue generated discussion and an action plan to address the particular interventions for implementation of standards, testing, quality management, certification and accreditation.
Speaking at the opening, Minister for Commerce Industry and Cunsumer Affairs Honourable Emma Hippolyte said the QI dialogue is a response to a lack of progress in efforts by the Caribbean to take advantage of opportunities in international markets and under trade agreements like the European Patnership Agreement EPA. According to the Commerce Minister, the region is unable to “meet the technical standards of the European market, as many exporters in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean have limited access to internationally- recognised, accredited testing and certification services…” She indicated that where these services are available extremely high costs are pricing the region out of accessing such services.
The QI dialogue and the subsequent interventions she asserted will help Saint Lucia meet the needs of industry by understanding what is required and committing to provide the services which will demonstrate that local products meet international requirements at the regional and national levels in order to support the private sector.
The objectives of the workshop included, the development of an action plan geared towards increasing the production of good quality agro-processed products, increased awareness of the importance of quality in competitiveness, understanding the role of a quality infrastructure in enhancing the development of the agriculture sector and increasing the production of good quality local meats and eggs.
The workshop was co-funded by the International Cooperation of the German Metrology Institute Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture IICA, the Ministry of Agriculture and the SLBS.
The workshop took place at the Orchid Centre in Union in June.
Dr. Mkabi Walcott - SLBS (top, third from left), Mr. John King – IICA (center, row first from left), Hon. Emma Hippolyte – Commerce Minister (center, third from left), Hon. Moses Jn Baptiste – Agriculture Minister (bottom, first from left), Mr. Wilbert King – SLBS Council Chairman (bottom, second from left), Dr. Felix Jaria – Ministry of Agriculture (bottom, third from left)