The Caribbean is now much more equipped to ensure safety from pesticides in fruits and vegetables with the accreditation of the University of the West Indies’ Jamaica-based Pesticide Research Laboratory (PRL) less than a week ago.

The laboratory was accredited in the area of Food Testing by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), thanks to the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) Project funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and administered by the Caribbean Development Bank. The project was implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

PRL can now provide pesticide residue analysis on fruits and vegetables with this accreditation and be assured that the test results will be internationally acceptable. It is the first laboratory to have received this accreditation, specifically for pesticides, in the region.

Remarks from CROSQ’s CEO Mr. Deryck Omar were delivered by head of the University’s Pesticide Research Laboratory, Professor Tara Dasgupta. In the remarks, Mr. Omar noted that CROSQ and others had extended technical support to the laboratory in securing the certification, which was the second such accreditation performed through the regional organisation’s Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme. The CROSQ-CCA Scheme provides conformity assessment bodies with regional opportunities to access affordable and reliable available development assistance in pursuit of accreditation.

“Jamaica and the Caribbean at large are well known for its vast array of fresh fruits and vegetable which provide immense nutritional value. More of these fruits and vegetables are being processed along the value chain as the region seeks to increase its capacity in creating value added products,” the CEO stressed.

He further extended thanks to technical consultant Ms. Maxine Campbell for her assistance to the laboratory, as well as the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its support, and the CDB and DFID for the financial backing. Thanks were also expressed to Professor Dasgupta, Dr. Raymond Reid and the team at PRL for their commitment to seeing the process through to successful completion.

 

The accreditation ceremony was officiated by Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, who noted, “A strengthened NQI [National Quality Infrastructure] means that the products and services developed in Jamaica and tests conducted by our laboratories are trusted internationally. It means realizing the full benefits of the National Export Strategy.”

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The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), being the leader in developing an efficient National Quality Infrastructure, believes it is their job to train and develop its stakeholders and to provide world-class training at an internationally-recognized standard. They also believe it is their duty to recognize potential in different players in the industry, leverage their existing talents, and foster them to produce output at their optimum.

To this end, the BSJ has partnered with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) by signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Monday, September 28, 2015, towards the achievement of the accreditation of the BSJ’s Personal Certification and Training Programme for the Jamaican Manufacturing and Service Industries to ISO/IEC 17024 and ASTM E2659-15, through its Industrial Training Unit.

The funding of this project will be done by both organizations at a total cost of $13 million Jamaica Dollars. The BSJ has committed to funding the benchmarking and implementation phase, as well as expanding the types and number of courses that are currently offered. These two accomplishments will be equivalent to milestones one (1) and two (2) of the project and will be done at a cost of $7 Million Jamaican Dollars. Also, the BSJ will begin developing webinars and an E-training platform to deliver the training courses. This will account for 25% of the total training programmes the BSJ now offers.

The DBJ, on the other hand, has committed to funding, at a cost of $6 million Jamaican Dollars, the implementation of the IT platform and the implementation of ISO 17024 and ASTM E2659-15 Management System. These will be the final two milestones of the project.

Speaking at the function, at the offices of the DBJ, the BSJ’s Executive Director, Ms. Yvonne Hall noted that the project fits perfectly with the BSJ’s strategies as it seeks to strengthen the National Quality Infrastructure, as well as foster business development in two of Jamaica’s critical industries.

“This grant will assist in providing world-class training at an international standard with international recognition,” she said, adding that her team is committed to finishing the project’s objectives in the given time, at the operational level and by the Standards Council.

The DBJ’s Managing Director, Mr. Milverton Reynolds noted that among the over 700 organizations that will benefit from the BSJ’s programme are small and medium-sized enterprises.

“SMEs are specifically targeted by the DBJ for assistance in accessing 1 hour loans and other forms of financing and business development – to make them more structured, more efficient and more likely to survive,” he said.

Mr. Reynolds praised the BSJ for the development role of the programmes and pointed out that among the positive impacts they will have is the improvement of Jamaica’s standing among its regional and international counterparts.

 

Also present at the event was Prof. Winston Davidson, Chairman of the Standards Council - BSJ.

(A news release from the BSJ)

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