January 29, 2015 – GEORGETOWN, GUYANA – A leading provider of internationally recognised accreditation services that improve consumer confidence, facilitate market access and economic growth, invited various businesses in Guyana aspiring to become accredited to international standards.

The event was hosted yesterday at the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS), Exhibition Complex Sophia, Georgetown. Facilitating the process was Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) Sharonmae Shirley. The JANAAC official explained that accreditation allows people to make an informed decision when selecting a laboratory, as it demonstrates competence, impartiality and capability. It helps to underpin the credibility and performance of goods and services.

Ms. Shirley noted that laboratory accreditation is generally provided by one recognized accreditation body within a country. In some developing economies, without established accreditation bodies, laboratories may have to seek accreditation from an established accreditation system in another country such as JANAAC. Emphasizing that accreditation increases the confidence that international consumers and their regulatory agencies have in the goods and services provided by businesses, the CEO said it also tells the world that your business is technically competent and meets all the requirements of an international standard. Therefore, businesses that are accredited will not only meet regulatory requirements but also have a marketing edge.

Ms Shirley further explained that by becoming accredited, medical and testing labs eliminate doubts about their results, performance and affirm competence in their respective areas of expertise. Internationally, exporters have lost millions of dollars over the years because of the detention of their products in the ports of entry of importing countries. This is largely due to the fact that the products were not tested by an accredited lab prior to entering their markets. An attractive business opportunity therefore exist for labs that are accredited by JANAAC, to provide testing services to exporters who are seeking to eliminate these technical barriers to trade.

She underscored that JANAAC provides internationally recognised accreditation services and training to Laboratories, Inspection Bodies and Certification Bodies that facilitate market access, enhance competitiveness and consumer wellbeing through improved stakeholder confidence in the quality and integrity of goods and services supplied.

JANAAC is currently a member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC). The agency is also an associate organization of the Caribbean Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (CLAS).

As Jamaica’s national accreditation body, JANAAC plays a very important role in facilitating trade between Jamaica and its trading partners. Through the provision of accreditation services, the agency enables local Conformity Assessment Systems to meet international standards and eliminate some Technical Barriers that have affected Jamaican manufacturers and exporters for many years. (As published in the Kaieteur News Online)

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SLBS issues Standards for Public Comment

 

The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards [SLBS] is soliciting feedback from the public on a series of standards to be adopted as Saint Lucia National Standards. The standards are concerned with requirements in the areas of Labelling of Commodities, Short Term vehicle rentals, graphical symbols, Weldable Reinforcing Steel, fused plugs, outlets and adaptors. This is one of the most critical steps in the standards development process to ensure that the standards, once implemented, reflect the views and input of a wide cross section of the public, in particular the industry which will be immediately impacted by the application of the standard.

The series of standards being circulated for comment are mostly revisions and with one new area that of vehicle rentals receiving attention for the first time.

The public comment stage for these standards is aimed at capturing the comments of stakeholders and the general public in order to identify and address areas of concern and to ensure that consensus on the contents of these standards is achieved before adoption.

Two of the standards, labeling and vehicle rentals will be available online at www.slbs.org.lc,for comment, the other standards will only be available at public libraries, upon a request to the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of, Commerce, Industry and Consumer Affairs, the Government Documentation Centre, or the St. Lucia National Archives.

The deadline for receipt of comments is Thursday 12th March 2015.

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Participants in the CALIDENA Train the Trainer workshop on a visit to the apiary in the Dominican Republic. Featured

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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Participants in the National QI dialogue on agriculture in Antigua & Barbuda. Featured

The second national dialogue on quality infrastructure (QI) came off in Antigua last month, providing the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS) and local officials with a clear picture of the state of the agriculture sector as relates quality and standards.

Held at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium on November 13, 2014, Director of the ABBS, Mrs. Dianne Lalla-Rodrigues, welcomed participants to the forum, while Officer-in-Charge of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality, Russell Frankly, gave a brief overview of the organisation’s role as facilitators, and its relationship with the German Metrology Institute (PTB), which is the sponsor of the RQI 4 and 10th EDF Technical Barriers to Trade projects.

Mr. Franklyn outlined the importance of the quality infrastructure dialogue, as well as the role of agriculture in the region’s survival.  He highlighted that in Antigua trade in agricultural goods was 2% - the lowest in the region, and that 62% of that country’s GDP was made up by services. Notwithstanding, there is potential for agriculture and agro-processed goods, he stated, adding that the quality of goods was preventing the region from getting into certain markets.

The acting head of CROSQ also indicated that Quality Infrastructure consultations would be held throughout the region with the intention of creating an action plan to address the region’s QI issues. The first consultation was held in Bahamas in October.

The Director of Agriculture, Mr. Jedidiah Maxime stressed that quality and standards are used to meet buyer requirements in countries where economies rely on exports. Antigua and Barbuda is a net importer and traditionally has not place much importance on standards.  However, the changing global dynamics has resulted in the country becoming an exporter in tourism-related areas, he pointed out.

Mr. Maxime added that quality and standards must not only be an issue of exports but national pride. He noted that a food production policy has been adopted by the Antigua and Barbuda government and an action plan is being developed to implement the policy.

Additionally, the Director indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture is collaborating with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to look into setting up a national commission for sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) areas. One objective of this is to champion issues relating to SPS which have to be adhered to. Issues, particularly those at the level of production, including record keeping, food safety issues and the adaptation of farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), were identified as critical.

Senator Collin James, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, Commerce and Industry and Sports, highlighted reasons for requirements in trade such as food safety, environment and health. He stated that there was a need for technical assistance to small countries in relation to technical barriers to trade and SPS in conformity, which was necessary to access markets.

QI allows a country to meet requirement of markets to build clients and consumer confidence, hence collaboration with PTB to strengthen QI institution, as well as the QI dialogue workshops which will increase awareness of the private sector in quality. A deliverable is the action plan to allow the bureau to be more responsive to the needs of its client.

The technical working session began with ‘Putting QI Dialogue Forum into Context’, where Ms. Julie-Ann Laudat gave the contextual framework within which the exercises will be completed. Antigua and Barbuda Food and Nutrition Security Policy focuses on increasing production and potential which will result in the potential to export increasing. As the potential to export increases, Antigua and Barbuda has to meet international Standards and Quality.

 

Ms Laudat also mentioned challenges which affect production – such as lack of trained staff, lack of lab facilities and the need for technical regulations and standards. Other breaks out sessions included the ‘Prioritization of the QI Services Needed to Meet the Needs of the Agricultural Sector’.

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Mr. Fulgence St. Prix - CROSQ Technical Officer, Standards Featured

The Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has adopted two regional standards – both of which have been in development for a number of years.

The region now has a common Specification for Cement, and a Code of Practice for Organic Production and Processes, both of which have been hailed as major developments by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).

“We’ve had a number of problems with trading of cement in the region of late, and so CARICOM through the COTED requested that a regional standard be developed for cement. The standard has been under development from as far back as 2007 and we finally got consensus throughout the Member States for the adoption of the regional cement standard,” said CROSQ’s Technical Officer – Standards, Mr. Fulgence St. Prix.

He noted though that because standards by nature are voluntary, he hoped that Member States would now put the necessary legislative framework in place to cause mandatory adoption of the standard which would cause all cement traded within the community to meet the requirements of this regional standard.

“In other words, we are looking to see if it can be the subject of a technical regulation and if that is the case then it means that no cement not meeting that standard will be able to enter any of the Member States. That is the intention.”

This issue is historic, not only because of the length of time it has taken to get to this point, but because of the methodology involved in its development.

“The standards development process calls for consensus and it was challenging in the sense that you have Member States using different standards. For instance, in Suriname and Haiti the standards they would have used to produce cement would have been based on the European standard, and the other Member States would have been using the ASTM Standards. So you needed to get some form of equivalence between the two standards and that is where we had the challenge, being able to strike a balance between the two standards. Although you might have similarities between the two standards, the European Standard and the ASTM standard, you would have to establish equivalence because they were more or less not the same.

“What we did to overcome the challenges, we adopted a new modality in terms of the standards development – first time we have ever done that – where we just referenced those international standards to be used. So cement conforming to those international standards would have been deemed to conform to that regional standard, and thus we would have been able to take care of the manufacturers who use the European standards and the ASTM standards.”

The technical officer said with this new approach, the possibility existed for this modality to be used in future standards’ development, further expressing thanks to the technical officers of the numerous national standards bureaus, as well as their directors, who worked to get the standard approved.

“The other standard we got acceptance for was a Code of Practice for Organic Production and Processes. It was part of an IDB SME project where the industry was asking for a code of practice because organic production is something new in the region and people are recognising  the immense opportunity in that area.”

The standard, which is based on the CODEX Alimentarius standard code of practice for organic foods, went through numerous revisions from as far back as 2009 to encompass organic food production and the processes as well.

Mr. St. Prix noted: “I know a number of the Member States do have an organic farming community and associations and they are all affiliated to the international organic farming community. So we did have an international organic organisation commenting on the standard and making their input on the standard. So we feel happy about that because at the end of the day it means that it will be accepted by the international community as well.”

It is hoped now that this code of practice can be used by the farming communities in Member States as a tool for certification.

 

“It also means that an organic production and processes certification can be developed using that standard. What we need to do now is develop further relationships with a certification body which offers certification of these products. We are hoping we can do it regionally and I know Jamaica was very interested in going that way in establishing a certification scheme and I will recommend that we work alongside them to develop a regional organic production and processes certification scheme, where the certification can be provided by regional certification bodies who are working towards international recognition. So once the certification bodies have attained the requisite international recognition we could soon have our organic products be on the world market thereby providing much needed income to our farmers and our economies by extension,” Mr. St. Prix concluded.

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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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