Georgetown–The Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement supporting development and modernisation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures applied in the Caribbean, with a view to improving access to the European markets for agricultural products from this region.
The agreement was signed in Georgetown, by the director-general of IICA, Vi?ctor M Villalobos, and the ambassador and head of delegation of the European Union, Robert Kopecky, within the framework of the XII Caribbean Week of Agriculture.
Based on this agreement, a programme of sanitary and phytosanitary measures that will have a life span of 42 months and a budget of US$5.8 million will be implemented. The beneficiary countries are the members of Cariforum–Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Villalobos said: "We in IICA are thrilled, not only to be part of this action, but also to have been chosen by the EU to execute it. We offer our technical capacity, our networks of specialists and our presence on the ground in all the countries of the Caribbean".
Speaking on behalf of the EU, Kopecky pointed out: "Markets are constantly opening up, and we in the European Union are very keen on partnering with the countries of the Caribbean. Therefore, strengthening the agricultural health of the goods we trade will benefit everyone concerned; and IICA understands this perfectly."With the implementation of the programme, Caribbean production and trade will be in line with international protocols and standards in agricultural health and environmental protection.
IICA and the EU will carry out actions aimed at strengthening the legal framework in which sanitary and phytosanitary measures are applied in the Caribbean, at both the national and regional levels.Standards and guidelines with respect to food safety will be also strengthened.
There is also a plan to create a network of national and regional institutions that deal with these topics and to develop initiatives for exchange of information and co-operation in matters relating to animal and plant health, in which the authorities, technical committees and international agencies will participate.
The programme also intends to strengthen the human resource capabilities, as well as improve the infrastructure of agricultural health systems increase the application of good agricultural and manufacturing practices, enhance the use of laboratories, carry out risk analyses, and detect possible disease outbreaks in a timely manner.
The agreement is part of a joint strategy to support development of agriculture in the Caribbean and benefit small farmers in particular. The strategy includes another four-year project called the Agriculture Policy Programme designed to strengthen the legal and institutional framework of agricultural research, technology and innovation, as well as access to markets.The budget for the two programmes amounts to some US$27 million.