The CARICOM Region now has its first accredited citrus plant pathology laboratory, located in Belize.
The Belize Citrus Growers Association’s (CGA) was awarded the ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation certificate by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) at the 32nd Meeting of the Council of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) held in Barbados recently.
The CGA’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Henry Anderson noted that this accreditation was proof that the laboratory was competent to perform tests to the “General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories” ISO / IEC 17025 Standard.
“Continuous analysis of the regional and global marketplace led us to the realization that we were competing not in a traditional citrus industry but in a juice industry. While we must redouble our efforts to expand our citrus production, we must do so while complementing our citrus production with the production of other fruit varieties and vegetables that can be processed to formulate the juice blends that are now being demanded by the regional and global marketplace,” he said.
To do this, he noted that the association set out to achieve management system certification of its Plant World Nursery with assistance from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which should happen by the end of this year; accreditation of its laboratories operated by the association’s research arm, the Citrus Research and Education Institute (CREI); improvement of its commercial services and scaling up operations within its production and processing company. All these elements, he maintained, would strengthen the overall citrus value chain operated by CGA.
“Our vision was in the first instance to improve customer service and then to attract resources to get ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for the lab and ISO 9001:2015 certification for Plant World Nursery. These would be leveraged to submit a proposal and get exclusive access to two patented HLB Valencia citrus varieties that were being released in Florida.”
The CDB has played a crucial role in financing the technical assistance to get the laboratory and nursery towards certification and then accreditation status. CROSQ provided the technical assistance for the accreditation through its Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme.. In this case, JANAAC was the accreditation body that conducted the assessments to verify the lab’s conformance to the standard.
The CEO also praised his team for their commitment. “We have a very small team, but they set sail down the river of uncertainty and worked seven days per week, twelve to fifteen hours per day to get accredited for five test methods - HLB, Citrus Psorosis, Citrus Tristeza, pH water and pH soil. All tests that are critical to the production of citrus nursery plants that must comply with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority’s Belize Citrus Certification Program regulations.
“CDB relied on CROSQ to provide technical oversight for the project and both organizations allowed us to synchronize the work of their respective consultants - Mrs. Maxine Campbell for CROSQ project and Dr. Raymond Reid for CDB project. This collaboration by two regional organizations is a model to be replicated,” stated Mr. Anderson.
Coordinator, Regional Cooperation and Integration in the Regional Cooperation Division of the CDB, Ms. Andrea Power stated: “CDB’s support for the accreditation of the CGA Lab both through the EU EPA Standby Facility and the CDB’s Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) is part of an overall effort by the Bank to support regional cooperation and integration in general and to facilitate increased intra-regional trade in particular. The Bank remains committed to supporting enhanced quality infrastructure so that more regionally produced goods can meet market access requirements.”
CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, who praised all the partners involved said it was a proud moment for the organisation and the collaborative mechanisms within the CARICOM Region which saw this accreditation come to pass.
“When the CROSQ Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme was established, it was envisioned as a way to not only bring the cost of accreditation down across the region, but as a way to pool our knowledge and skills as a region, so those with the expertise could assist, through a cooperative arrangement, those who needed support to accreditation and did not have all the requisite resources. Since the scheme started under the 10th EDF-TBT (European Development Fund-Technical Barriers to Trade) Programme, we’ve seen more and more labs being accredited under the CCA.
“All this also comes together because of donor agencies who are willing to also put their contributions behind the process, and that’s where organisations like the Caribbean Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the European Union (EU) and others, who have played a part, because it is a serious financial undertaking when labs decide to take this step toward accreditation. The wonderful thing about it though is that we have been proving throughout the CARICOM chain that the benefits are worth it, for the lives, health and safety of our Caribbean populations.”
Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana will be part of a massive initiative aimed at promoting standards in the Caribbean when ASTM International, one of the world’s leading standards organizations, hosts several events in the Region as part of the “Caribbean Roadshow”, from June 4-8.
The roadshow includes outreach, training, and education focused on the growing use of ASTM International standards and International Code Council (ICC) codes. The team will highlight longstanding Caribbean partnerships and focus on how standards and codes are the foundation for quality and safety in construction projects.
Activities also include industry workshops and meetings with high-profile groups in Kingston (June 4-5), Port of Spain (June 6), and Georgetown (June 7-8). Speakers will include Mark Johnson, executive vice president of ICC, and R. Christopher Mathis, ASTM International board member and president of MC2 Mathis Consulting.
“This partnership involves unprecedented outreach and networking aimed at finding solutions to sustainable construction challenges,” said ASTM International director of external relations, James Olshefsky. “We look forward to highlighting the many members and dozens of partners who increasingly use ASTM’s high-quality standards throughout the region.”
In addition, the roadshow will include student forums during which students will learn about ASTM’s academic offerings, and laboratory roundtables, where ASTM staff will present information about ASTM’s laboratory services.
ASTM International has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) as well as many of its member states including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana. These agreements encourage participation of technical experts worldwide in the standards development process, while also broadening the global acceptance of ASTM International standards.
The “Caribbean Roadshow” follows a similar roadshow in September 2017 to El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Over the past 17 years, ASTM International has signed 109 MOUs with national standards bodies worldwide. As a result, its standards have been referenced more than 7,500 times outside the United States in laws, regulations, codes, and elsewhere. For more information on this program, visit www.astm.org/GLOBAL/mou.html.
About ASTM International
Committed to serving global societal needs, ASTM International positively impacts public health and safety, consumer confidence, and overall quality of life. We integrate consensus standards – developed with our international membership of volunteer technical experts – and innovate services to improve lives… Helping our world work better.
(*THIS IS AN ADAPTED ASTM INTERNATIONAL NEWS RELEASE)
As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) moves to become more energy efficient, steps are being taken to phase out the use of incandescent bulbs. On the basis of a mandate from the CARICOM Energy Ministers, plans for the phase‑out programme are now being developed by the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and are expected to be completed in September 2018.
The programme, according to Representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat, will include a roadmap to reduce the import and sale of incandescent light bulbs within the region, and will guide and support countries in the establishment of regulations and actions for the phasing out exercise. If all goes according to the plan, incandescent bulbs will gradually be phased-out as energy efficiency standards for lighting are phased-in. The phase-out schedule could begin as early as January 2019 with the 100 watt incandescent bulbs, with further restrictions on smaller lamp sizes entering into force in incremental stages over a number of years.
The decision to develop the phase-out programme was taken at the recently-concluded Meeting of CARICOM Energy Ministers. The Meeting was held at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana on 19 April 2018, and was chaired by Senator the Hon. Darcy Boyce, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados with responsibility for Energy. The Ministers took the decision as part of the menu of quality measures that are being undertaken to steer the Community towards energy efficiency and sector regulation.
The incandescent light bulb has existed for 130 years and are inefficient because they waste most of their energy. They are very cheap to manufacture and purchase but only 5% of the input power is converted into visible light, with the remainder converted into waste heat. Hence, they are expensive to operate and lead to high electricity bills for households and businesses that use them. The natural successors to the incandescent bulb are compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). These use 60-90% less energy than incandescent lighting and offer a much longer lifespan.
In 2015, the CARICOM Ministers had approved energy perform standards for CFLs and LEDs. These standards protect consumers from “underperforming products” while simultaneously protecting importers of highly efficient products from competitors saturating the market with “cheaper”, low‑performance products. Effort is being made for the standards for CFLs and LEDs to be adopted at national levels before year‑end as an assurance of quality in the efficient lighting alternatives is a precursor to the removal of inefficient incandescent bulbs from CARICOM markets.
Cuba was the first country in the world to successfully complete the phase-out of incandescent bulbs. In 2007, the Caribbean country banned the import and sale of incandescent bulbs and implemented a programme for their direct substitution with CFLs in households. According to reports, about 116 million incandescent bulbs were replaced by CFLs in every household in Cuba, resulting in peak demand savings of about 4,000 MW and 8 million tons of carbon emissions.
Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code
Among the other steps that the region has taken on the road to energy efficiency is the development of an Energy Efficiency Code for buildings within the CARICOM. Energy Ministers, at the April 19 Meeting in Guyana, also approved the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code, with the accompanying Caribbean Application Document, as the Regional Energy Efficient Building Code (REEBC).
The establishment of the REEBC is a very important step in creating a clear and generally-accepted framework for maximising the efficiency of the “total” energy services in buildings. The approval paves the way for the systematic implementation of the principles and practices related to, among other things, energy efficient lamps and lighting. The phase out of incandescent bulbs is consistent with the requirements of the recently‑approved Energy Efficiency Code for CARICOM buildings.
Within CARICOM, successful implementation of the REEBC could eliminate 15,000 barrels of imported oil (and save around US$ 1 million in foreign exchange) every day.
(News Release by the CARICOM Energy Unit)
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) has been praised by regional and international partners for the role it continues to play in supporting the improvement of the quality of products and services traded within the region.
The praise, from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the European Union (EU), came as CROSQ was hosting the 32nd Meeting of its Council of National Bureaux of Standards’ Directors in Barbados recently.
Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration in the Technical Cooperation Division of CDB, Ms. Andrea Power, told the opening of the meeting that CROSQ’s model of cost-effectively pooling resources between member states to provide “complementary systems and services” held the potential to be a benchmark model in the area of trade.
“CDB is pleased to participate in the 32nd meeting of the council of CROSQ. The Board’s commitment to and mandate to promote regional integration is rooted in its founding charter and as such the promotion of regional integration is a cross-cutting thematic priority within our strategic framework.
“Our commitment to regional integration is also rooted in a certain belief that if we get it right, regional integration represents a unique opportunity for the region to take advantage of international trade and insert itself into global value chains on our own terms and in a more sustainable and resilient way,” said the Bank official.
Ms. Power further called for a completion of the regional Single Market, stating, “While we have expended significant effort to remove restrictions found in our laws, we must now aggressively pursue what I call market making reforms and building out of regional public goods which will make the single market more efficient and make access to the single market more equitable.”
She highlighted the Bank’s recent commitment of US$700,000 towards developing national quality policies in five countries, based on CROSQ’s own Regional Quality Policy, as well as the intention to add another two regional analytical laboratories to the growing list of those being accredited.
Her comments followed those of the First Secretary to the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Mr. Luca Pierantoni, who noted that the execution of the technical barriers to trade (TBT) component of the 10th European Development Fund programme, by German National Metrology Institute, CROSQ, the Quality Institute of the Dominican Republic was a success because of cooperation between entities.
Mr. Pierantoni maintained, “Experience has demonstrated that actions at the regional level will be unsuccessful without the commitment, support and involvement of concerned actors at the national level,” adding that the partnership of regional and national entities would continue to be important to the success of the upcoming TBT programme of the 11th EDF.
“One thing that we will always need to keep in mind is that whatever we do, whatever we establish, all the certification mechanisms that we set up, all the laboratories that we help operationalize, all the legislation that we help draft, all the regulations that we manage to review, should have only one aim: to benefit the people outside that door; to create more conducive conditions to make business in the Caribbean; to make the private sector of the Caribbean more competitive,” the EU First Secretary reiterated.
“We want a system that is centered on the private sector of the Caribbean, that responds to its needs; that focusses on the value chain; that builds on the potentials that the Caribbean economies have and concretely help the business to export more and better and to reach durable market penetration in Europe and elsewhere,” he said.
The meeting comprised two open days of dialogues with agencies including the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO); the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); the CARICOM Secretariat; the Caribbean Poultry Association; ASTM International; the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO); Caribbean Export Development Agency and several others.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards has successfully completed the first year surveillance audit for the three-year certification to the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System standard. The audit conducted in March 2018 has recommended that the SLBS maintain registration to the ISO 9001:2015 certification.
The surveillance audit is a check of the system to ensure that the SLBS is consistently maintaining and delivering an effective quality management system, and drives continuous improvements to products, services, and internal processes.
The surveillance audit was conducted over two days by the independent accredited registrar company Perry Johnsons Registrars of the United States.
ISO 9001 is the world’s most popular quality management system standard that helps businesses demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that satisfy customer, statutory and regulatory requirements. The certification aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of a company’s system, including processes for improving the system while assuring compliance with regulations.
The scope of the SLBS’ certification extends to most processes across the organization. Achieving ISO 9001 certification highlights the SLBS’ commitment to consistently measure quality by defining and documenting procedures to ensure the consistency of outputs and instituting corrective actions when required.
(Press Release from the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards - SLBS)
A number of international and regional organisations are scheduled to be in Barbados from April 4-6, 2018 for the 32nd meeting of the Council of Directors of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ).
The Secretary General of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), Mr. Sergio Mujica, as well as representatives of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) will be among a number of international experts in standardisation, trade and trade facilitation and international health matters, who will be addressing the directors of the CARICOM bureaux of standards during the three-day meeting to be held at the Accra Beach Resort.
The meeting, being jointly hosted by the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI), opens at 9 a.m. on April 4, and will discuss how each of these areas fit into the quality agenda of the region during the first two days. The third day is a closed meeting exclusive to the directors to look at the direction and development of quality infrastructure for the year ahead.
The opening ceremony is also set to be addressed by The European Union’s First Secretary, Mr. Luca Pierantoni; Barbados’ Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce & Small Business Development, Mr. Donville Inniss; and the Caribbean Development Bank’s Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration, Ms. Andrea Power.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar stated that it was also an honour for the organisation to be hosting so many international and regional leaders, including those from the CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), and Caribbean Export, who could contribute to the ongoing discussion in CARICOM of how quality services are developed and what the region should be doing to improve life, health and safety here with quality as the stepping stone.
“This is the first time one of our Council Meetings will see this kind of engagement of such a wide range of professionals and leaders from so many areas that can add value to the work done by our bureaux of standards. In this increasingly expanding global environment, if we do not take the challenge of how we facilitate trade seriously; if we don’t take care in how we develop the services and infrastructure that help our products export and improve the products and services we offer as a region, then we will be left totally out of the loop.
“That essentially is what this meeting is about – bringing some of the minds together to discuss what is happening internationally and regionally and how they twin and mesh and finding out where the divergence and gaps are, so we can respond with convergence opportunities as a CARICOM Region. We can only do better if we have the information of what is out there,” said the CEO.
The CROSQ CEO noted: “It must also be said that after this meeting this week, in a few weeks CROSQ will officially be introducing the Regional Quality Policy to the region as a whole which deals with how we develop our quality infrastructure services, and this will include the roles that our public and private sectors, as well as civil society have to play in advancing our standards; our measurement capabilities and facilities; our accreditation and certification for services and products; and then how we spread the awareness of what is available to every corner of our region.”
This 32nd meeting will also be the first for the new Chair of CROSQ, Dr. Renae Ferguson-Bufford of the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) who was appointed during last year’s meeting in St. Kitts and Nevis.