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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Antigua and Barbuda this week moved one step closer to upgrading the quality infrastructure for the Jams and Jellies Value Chain, using the CALIDENA process.

A follow-up CALIDENA workshop, hosted by The Antigua & Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), in collaboration with the German Metrology Institute (PTB) and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), was hosted on November 12, 2014 at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds. It was attended by stakeholders in the various links of the value chains.

The CALIDENA process under the CROSQ-implemented and PTB-funded project – Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean (RQI4), 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 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.

The value chain analysis in Antigua began in February this year, with the CALIDENA Diagnostic Workshopa – usually the first step in the process. A rapid diagnosis was conducted on the jam and jellies sector in relation to quality infrastructure negatively affecting competitiveness of the sector. An action plan was developed which detailed the strategies to be undertaken to address the identified issues, the strategies that would be implemented and how, the time frame and the responsible parties. An action plan committee was also set up to oversee its implementation.

The November 12 workshop opened with welcome remarks by Mrs. Diane Lalla-Rodrigues who explained the link of the current activity with the previous workshop. This was followed by comments by Ms Janice Hilaire, project coordinator of the RQI 4 Project being. Ms Hilaire explained briefly the objectives of CALIDENA, and explained that the follow-up workshop was one component in a process designed and implemented to make the goods in the region more competitive and attractive to buyers.

A quick update was given on the progress of the action plan. Seven (7) strategies were detailed in the Action Plan including:

·         Food and safety systems improved at the company level.

·         Upgrade in ability of analytical labs at the Bureau of Standards to perform food analyses

·         Request for national standards for jams and jellies

·         Technical regulations for labeling

Ms Julie-Ann Laudat, the local CALIDENA facilitator, introduced the next activity by informing participants of the general objectives of the CALIDENA process and its relevance to the jams and jellies value chain. The overarching aim is to strengthen the quality infrastructure for the Jams and Jellies Value Chain in Antigua and Barbuda. The specific objectives, “elaborate and agree on amendments to the Action Plan to upgrade the quality infrastructure for the Jams and Jellies Value Chain.” An additional specific objective is to, “improve the understanding of agro-processors of the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practices”.

During this workshop, participants were formed into groups in order to assess the action plan and to broaden and/or deepen the diagnostic and if necessary to determine if new activities are to be added.

The final activity of the workshop was a presentation of Good Management Practices which looked at guidelines in pre-operation and operation procedures. The guidelines included storage and transportation, establishment and design of facilities, buildings for pre-operation; and control of food hazards, food additives, labelling and accuracy for operation.

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