The shrimp industry in Belize is this week more certain of the way forward to addressing some of its challenges and how the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) can help producers, processers and distributors improve quality and possibly increase exports.

This follows an intensive three-day CALIDENA Diagnostic workshop that was the result of collaboration on the shrimp industry between the BBS, its regional umbrella body – the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and funders, the International Technical Cooperation Department of the German Metrology Institute (PTB).

The CALIDENA methodology under the CROSQ-implemented and PTB-funded project – Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean (RQI 4), has been focussed on improving the quality infrastructure in agriculture-related value chains among the CROSQ Member States. The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all the steps from creation to market, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product.

Belize is one of four countries in the second round of the RQI4 project to be chosen for the strengthening of a value chain, and the country chose its shrimp industry.

The workshop ran from August 5 – 7, 2015, at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, and concluded with a trip to the Belize Agriculture Limited (BAL) shrimp processing plant in Placencia, in the south of Belize. Approximately 20 participants spent the first day of the workshop learning about quality infrastructure and the history of the shrimp industry, conducting analyses of the state of the industry. The second day examined the legislations and regulations central to the shrimp value chain’s operation in Belize, regionally and internationally, while the third day examined a real operation and a GAP analysis of the industry, with a committee being formed to spearhead actions to closing the gaps and correcting the deficiencies found.

By the end, the group had identified challenges pertaining to technical regulations and inspection; standards and certification; laboratory and accreditation services; and metrology and calibration services. Among the needs found in technical regulations and inspection were – inspection services; standards and certification recommended frequent monitoring by a certification body, training in quality systems; in laboratory and accreditation services – an accredited laboratory facility, communication with and among stakeholders, particularly the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the BBS, training of auditors, and they wanted services in temperature and the calibration of scales as well as accreditation of calibration services to help facilitation of trade in the metrology and calibration area.

These and other needs were outlined in the action plan that is devised at the end of such CALIDENA diagnostics, and in addition to identifying persons to sit on the implementation committee, they also determined why these were the challenges they found with QI services, how these challenges could be addressed and by whom, along with timelines.

The committee is now set to meet before the end of the month to begin plotting how it will implement some of the actions decided on during the Diagnostic workshop.

Director of the BBS, Mr. Jose Trejo expressed thanks for the intervention into the shrimp value chain and noted that the bureau was excited and looking forward to the implementation process of the actions decided.

President of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, Mr. Alvin Henderson said: "I think (the CALIDENA) has brought a lot of clarity to something that is increasingly urgent for us as a country. About two months ago I raised the issue with BAHA about the need for us to have an accredited lab and it is moreso urgent now."

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Twenty-one (21) persons in the region are now qualified to administer the CALIDENA methodology on value chains.

This is through a CALIDENA “Train the Trainer” workshop held at the Barcelo Hotel in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic in December. The objective was to train local facilitators to administer the methodology to develop action plans which would address issues specific to the value chains in seven countries. Those countries and chains were:

1.       Antigua and Barbuda – honey/wax

2.       Belize – shrimp

3.       Dominican Republic – honey

4.       St Kitts Nevis – breadfruit/breadnut

5.       St Lucia – seamoss

6.       Suriname – yard long beans

7.       Trinidad and Tobago – cocoa.

With this training, the workshop participants, who included value chain representatives, national standards bureaus and consultants, are now qualified to aid with the improvement of the quality of goods in the respective value chains, as well as making those value chains more competitive.

The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all these steps from creation to market, to human resources, research and development, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product. CALIDENA is a component of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)-implemented, and the National Metrology Institute of Germany, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)–funded, Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean Project, more commonly known as the RQI4.

The training began with opening remarks by Director of Pro CALIDAD, the host organisation, Ms. Claribel Lopez, who welcomed participants to the Dominican Republic and explained to them the functions of her organisation. Project Coordinator with CROSQ, Ms. Janice Hilaire, highlighted the role of CROSQ in trade competitiveness through improvements in quality infrastructure, its relationship with PTB and the role of the RQI 4 Project and how interactions with participants will progress over the three stages (feasibility, diagnostic and follow-up) of administering of the methodology.

The training involved a set of activities structured to give insight into quality infrastructure, value chain analysis and how CALIDENA incorporates the two to achieve its objectives. The trainer, Dr. Ulrich Harmes- Liedkte, also explained the importance of card facilitation to the effectiveness of delivery, and provided detailed insight into the CALIDENA methodology. 

An important component of the training was a field trip to an apiary and honey processing plant so participants could observe the practices as related to quality infrastructure of these institutions. The visit allowed participants to pull together the learning of the previous days and critically assess what exists in terms of quality infrastructure and the existence of gaps. Emphasis was placed on the preparation of action plans and how participants can go about prioritising activities for inclusion in the plan. Participants began the planning of their road map for administering the methodology for the selected value chains in their countries.

 

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