Two regional partners regaled the importance of cooperation in achieving beneficial objectives, as a new project was launched recently to help improve quality systems in the Caribbean.

The “Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme”, a joint initiative between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), is funded by the CDB to the tune of US$750,000.

The three main objectives of the 18-months project are:

  • Development of National Quality Policies (NQPs) using the Regional Quality Policy (RQP) in at least five countries with associated Implementation Roadmaps in order to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework to support national quality infrastructure (NQI) development;
  • Technical assistance to at least two testing laboratories for International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 17025 accreditation; and,
  • Design and implementation of a comprehensive information and awareness campaign to promote and sensitise stakeholders on matters relating to the operationalisation of the quality policies and to improve knowledge and use of accredited testing services.

At the launch, held at the CDB’s Conference Room, Wildey, St. Michael, Barbados, one of the Directors of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael noted that this project was coming at a time when the organisation was ever expanding its partnerships regionally and internationally.

She noted that projects, including with the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany through the German National Metrology Institute, the CARICOM Energy Unit, the African Regional Standards Organisation (ARSO); the European Committee for Standardization, ASTM International, United Nations Industrial and Development Organisation, the ACP Secretariat and several others were all partnerships that were bringing value to the region by expanding the expertise of quality professionals and institutions here.

This new project, would continue adding value to what currently exists, said Mrs. Ishmael, who is also Acting Director of the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI).

“Our region has always had tremendous potential, but challenges have existed and continue to exist in accessing opportunities and technical assistance to push our industries further; to make our sectors more competitive beyond our shores. This is where the CROSQ and CDB can be more effective in our relationship – bringing that kind of value to those who need it,” she noted.

In remarking on the Bank’s commitment to development and integration, Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration, Ms. Andrea Power stated: “The project is indicative of the Bank’s belief in and commitment to regional integration as the basis on which our economies can achieve global competitiveness. It is for this reason that the Bank has given priority to partnering with technically competent regional institutions to facilitate the implementation of regional decisions and policies at the national level. All this with the ultimate goal of increasing intra-regional trade.”

CROSQ is the network of 15 national bureaux of standards of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Its partnerships with the CDB date back to 2012 when the two entities first began cooperating towards creating regional standards and quality systems in specific sectors.

Following the launch, the Project Steering Committee for the Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme, met to discuss a number of issues pertinent to the success of the project. The Committee is comprised of representatives of the CDB, CROSQ, the Caribbean Export and Development Agency (CEDA) and a regional QI institution and accreditation body.

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Energy security and the efficiency of use of energy in the buildings of CARICOM is the focus of a three-day workshop in Grenada from July 13-15, 2016.

The regional workshop on Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations brought together over 40 experts from the 15 Member States of CARICOM to examine two key objectives: the establishment of benchmarks for the energy performance of buildings in the form of agreed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs), and the provision of a firm basis for the development of a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).

CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar remarked that the organisation’s directive to develop energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings was one handed down by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Such a directive was embraced by CROSQ which committed to the development of the REEBC.

“We also recognise the importance of development of standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy as it enables us as a region to meet our obligations under international agreements, meeting millennium goals and reducing carbon foot print; as well as relieving pressure on our governments as it relates economic transformation, providing for energy independence and security.

 “To guarantee success of fulfilling the directive it is both necessary and important for CROSQ to partner and explore synergies with other organisations with similar goals,” said the CEO at the opening ceremony of the workshop.

CROSQ is partnering in this initiative with agencies and projects, including the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA), the CARICOM Energy Unit, and the Caribbean Development Bank, alongside hosts of the workshop, the Grenada Bureau of Standards.

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The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)’s Central Laboratory has made history by becoming the first laboratory in Guyana to become accredited to the International Standards Organisation’s ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The ISO standard is used by laboratories in developing their management system for quality, administrative and technical operations. Laboratory customers, regulatory authorities and accreditation bodies may also use it in confirming or recognizing the competence of laboratories.

By earning this standard, the GRBD has achieved several significant milestones including becoming the first laboratory in the region to have:

  •  attained accreditation through the CARTFund, the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
  • been assisted towards achieving accreditation by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) functioning as the National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP)
  • become accredited outside of Jamaica utilising the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC)
  • earned accreditation through the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme created by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a partner in the CARTFund Project, noted that the accreditation was a particularly gratifying step, and a very important achievement for the Project.

“A major constraint to trade and market access, even where tariffs have been eliminated, is the ability to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards and quality requirements”, said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division of the Caribbean Development Bank.   “The Accreditation of the GRDB Central Laboratory means that the rice sector in Guyana now has access to accredited testing services. This is a significant milestone in the development of the value chain of the Rice subsector in Guyana”.

CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar shared the view that this was an excellent example of countries supporting each other using specialised expertise and resources.

“This accreditation demonstrates functional regional integration as together each achieves more.  It is a positive development to see how the expertise of JANAAC was brought to bear in supporting Guyana in this process. The CCA Scheme has several advantages as conformity assessment bodies receive coaching, training and development assistance towards achieving accreditation. We find this approach to be economical and practical,” said Mr. Omar.

Permanent Secretary in Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis further described the achievement of the accreditation as auspicious, because GRDB is the country’s lead agency in agriculture.

“Prior to this certification, the Guyana Rice Development Board was tasked with sending samples for testing to the USA, which roughly took two weeks for results. Today, we no longer have to take this route. Being ISO/IEC certified is a useful tool which will add credibility by demonstrating that rice coming out of Guyana meets the expectations of our buyers”, he said, reading a prepared speech from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder.

The accreditation process began under the project in 2014 and was accelerated with receipt of a grant of US$522,401 from the CARTFund.

The objective of the CARTFund project is to strengthen the capabilities of testing laboratories in CARIFORUM Member States to provide reliable, competent, internationally recognised and affordable testing services to exporters. CROSQ and the CDB are the implementing partners for the Project.

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