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.
As the newest standards bureau in the region, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is now well on the way to enhancing its offering of accreditation and measurement standardisation services with the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) recently.
Minister of Financial Services, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, under whose portfolio the BBSQ resides, signed the documents on April 30, 2015, to establish the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, and to recognise the Bureau of Standards Jamaica’s (BSJ) Mass Metrology Laboratory as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory (CaRL) for Mass Metrology.
Accreditation, which is a third-party attestation, refers to the demonstration of competence in certification, inspection and testing, by a conformity assessment body. The CCA Scheme brings together such bodies for the purpose of mutual cooperation and collaboration toward facilitating trade in the Caribbean region and internationally. CROSQ coordinates the support services for these facilities.
Metrology, on the other hand, is the science of measurement; and the CaRL Scheme is aimed at providing economical and sustainable traceability in specific quantities by National Metrology Institutes (NMI) within the region. A CaRL is a metrology laboratory within a NMI or Designated Institute in the CARICOM region, recognised by CROSQ as a regional reference lab for a specific measurement quantity or magnitude within a defined scope.
The signing of the two documents have begun the process of moving the national standards body, BBSQ in The Bahamas, from its early conceptual phase into being the premier institution in the country for quality infrastructure services.
With the CCA Scheme in place, the BBSQ will be better able to access economical and readily available accreditation services through the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS); be able to facilitate the development of regional quality infrastructure as well as facilitate regional and international trade; provide avenues for manufacturers to expand their markets, as well as give them local access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services, among other benefits.
Being a signatory to the CaRL MOU for Mass Metrology will mean that the BBSQ will have access to calibrations at reduced cost from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its national reference mass standards. This will translate into a reduced cost for maintaining the traceability of mass measurements in The Bahamas. Additionally, the BBSQ will be able to access technical assistance from the BSJ mass metrology experts, which will prove especially important as the BBSQ now develops its capability in this area.
Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford was particularly heartened by the signing of the CaRL MOU between the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the Government of The Bahamas. She noted that the role of the CaRL was to provide measurement traceability to the Caribbean region by serving as the ‘entry point’ of the highest measurement capability within the region characterised by having an international recognised quality management system, the smallest measurement uncertainty and highest technical capability in the region.
The completion of the CCA MOU will happen when the CROSQ Council meets in Barbados this week, from May 6 – 8, to set that scheme in motion and empower the Bahamian bureau as far as accreditation services are concerned.
“We have been working for quite some time to get the Bureau of Standards in The Bahamas up and running effectively and the signing of these MOUs demonstrate a commitment to making our country one of the regional leaders of quality infrastructure. We have been sensitizing Bahamians on the importance and benefits of standards, and also promoting and implementing quality services into everything that we do. Now, the Bureau has more power to begin to offer the services that our private and public sectors need to make them more competitive on regional and international markets.
“I would like to thank Minister Strachan for committing to the process all the way, as well as to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) for lending the technical assistance to get us to this point, and their continued commitment to ensure that we are fully operational. As the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as regional QI is concerned, we know a lot is expected and we will strive, harder than ever, to live up to those expectations,” said Dr. Ferguson-Bufford.
This move towards further development of the BBSQ has been made possible through funding by the European Union through the 10th European Development Fund Economic Partnership Agreement Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, and private USA lending companies like, Instant Same Day Loans 24, Amone, Country Wide and others, focusing on Technical Barriers to Trade.
The 2015 COPANT (Pan American Standards Commission) General Assembly was held on April 14 and 15 in Mexico City, successfully organized by the Dirección General de Normas, the COPANT member for Mexico.
The opening ceremony of the meeting included the distinguished presence of the Deputy Secretary for Competitiveness and Normativity of the Ministry of Economy, Mrs. Rocio Ruiz Chavez, who noted that Mexico is committed to participate more actively at regional and international level and is pleased to see that COPANT has evolved to be a strategic body that generates opportunities for cooperation and dialogue, better representing the voice of our region. During the opening ceremony had also the presence of the Deputy Secretary of Quality and Regulation of the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Francisco Mass Peña, who mentioned that among the measures to boost the quality and competitiveness of tourism standardization is considered as a strategic pillar in that Ministry. Mexico is becoming a major tourist destination, growing in tourist arrivals in 2014 by 20.5%. We were also honored with the presence of the President of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), Dr. Junji Nomura who stressed that this organization can support countries in the COPANT region to verify the safety of electrical appliances and encouraged to participate in IEC activities. For his part, the Vice President of Policy for ISO (International Organization for Standardization), Mr. John Walter, who is also the CEO of the Standards Body of Canada, a member of COPANT, acknowledged the leadership of Mexico in the region, which facilitated the venue to develop COPANT activities during the week building a solid foundation of friendship, trust and cooperation activities on the benefit of the region.
President of COPANT, Mr. Joe Bhati (left) and Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael share a light moment after the signing of the MOU between the two bodies.
The 2015 meeting was attended by 25 active members, 6 adherent members and 9 invited organizations, totalling 94 delegates at the meeting. The most important activity during this meeting, with a preparatory session the day before, was to define through four working groups, the strategic planning 2016-2020. The four working groups reaffirmed their leaders and analyzed and defined objectives and activities to achieve compliance with the four Strategic Priorities of COPANT which are:
- Building Capacities – Led by Mexico and Argentina;
- Increasing International Participation in Targeted Areas – Led by Brazil and the United States;
- Promoting Effective Conformity Assessment Services – Led by Chile and Colombia; and
- Strengthening Regional Collaboration and Cooperation – Led by Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago.
During the meeting is also noteworthy the signing of a cooperation agreement between COPANT and CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality, CROSQ.
During the week of COPANT a Workshop was conducted on Perspectives of Standardization and Conformity Assessment for Leaders of the NSBs, organized by the Mexican Accreditation Agency - EMA, and which also included speakers from Canada and the United States, who shared the structure and functioning of their national quality systems.
On Friday April 17 DGN organizes visits to companies and organizations for delegates COPANT, among which are highlighted visits to the Cerveceria Modelo, facility of NYCE-ANCE-MABE and the food industry Yakult.
Two meetings were also carried out on COPANT Focal Group on Tourism Services, led by Mexico; and the of the Spanish Translation Management Board of ISO, whose secretariat is with AENOR Spain.
The General Assembly session concluded with a dinner hosted by the hosts with typical dances of the country.
This is a press release of the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT). Photos reproduced from COPANT.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and The Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT) today formalised its strategic alliance with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
The MOU, signed by Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael and President of COPANT, Mr. Joe Bhati, is intended to foster greater cooperation in the field of standardisation and conformity assessment, based on international principles and regulations.
The agreement was signed at the COPANT General Assembly and Strategic Planning Session, which will conclude today, April 15, 2015, in Mexico. The agreement, which also recognises the need for worldwide international standards, sets the stage for collaboration between contributing hemispheric organisations, and encourages the exchange of information, views, capacity building programmes and instruments of standards development, adoption, implementation and quality assurance between COPANT and CROSQ Member States, namely the members of CARICOM.
CROSQ is regional centre for promoting efficiency and competitive production in goods and services, through the process of standardisation and the verification of quality. Headquartered in Barbados, it aims to support international competitiveness for the enhancement of social and economic development of the region. COPANT comprises the National Standards Bodies of all the Americas, inclusive of 34 active members and 10 associate members. It is the reference organisation for technical standardisation and conformity assessment for the countries of the Americas, its members and international peers, and promotes the development of its members.
The MOU is signed by President of COPANT, Mr. Joe Bhati (centre) and Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael (right), while Executive Secretary of COPANT, Mrs. Kory Eguino (left) looks on.
The private sector in the Dominican Republic is excited about opportunities to harmonise standards in that country, with those of CARICOM.
A recent mission by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) to the Dominican Republic which involved discussions with INDOCAL, the Dominican Republic Standards Organisation and the private sector, highlighted various opportunities for harmonisation of trade standards, which is the process by which agreed product and service quality-related specifications are aligned across nations.
Chairman of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael told the large gathering during the three days of consultations and discussion that the harmonisation activity was based on the Free Trade Agreement between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Dominican Republic which was signed in 1998; and of which the implementing protocol was signed in 2001.
“The fundamental objective of the Agreement,” she noted, “was to strengthen commercial and economic relations between the Parties through a number of initiatives, including - the establishment of a Free Trade Area between the Parties consistent with the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (the WTO), and, the promotion and expansion of the sale of goods originating in the territories of the Parties, elimination of non-tariff barriers to trade, and the establishment of a system of Rules of Origin, Customs Co-operation and the Harmonization of Technical, Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary procedures.”
“As the CARICOM organization with the responsibility for assisting with the dismantling of Technical Barriers to Trade through strengthening of regional quality infrastructure institutions, CROSQ has been developing and implementing strategies to support the objectives of the Agreement stated previously. One such initiative is within the 10th EDF (European Development Fund) programme ‘Support of the Forum of Caribbean States in the implementation of the commitments undertaken under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)’.”
“An outcome of this programme is the harmonization of standards between the Caribbean Community, represented by CROSQ and the Dominican Republic, represented by INDOCAL. Five standards have been chosen . . .,” the chair said, commending the parties involved for their commitment to the process thus far.
She further underscored the importance of the role the private sector would play in the process, noting, “My presence here today, as the Chairperson of CROSQ, is to demonstrate CROSQ’s commitment to, and support for, this activity. INDOCAL has also demonstrated its commitment by organizing and hosting this dialogue with you the stakeholders, who will be the principal beneficiaries of the outcomes. Your support is therefore critical to the realization of these objectives, and the many benefits to be derived.”
President of INDOCAL, Mr. Manuel Guerrero likewise stated the importance of the initiative with the Dominican Republic.
“The major result of this important activity [is to] achieve the greatest amount of standards harmonisation to the greatest possible extent; [that] standardising institutions participate fully and adequately, within the limits of its resources, in the preparation by international institutions with relevant standardisation activities . . .
“Regional institutions involved [must] also make every effort to achieve a national consensus on the standards they develop. Likewise, the regional standardising institution should make every effort to avoid duplication or rework of international institutions with relevant standardisation activities,” said the president.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer – Standards, Mr. Fulgence St. Prix hailed the two days of discussions extremely successful and thanked the European Union, noting that even after the official stakeholders’ consultation had ended, members of the private sector kept enquiring about other specific standards they would like to see harmonised.
Among the standards discussed for harmonisation are: Mangoes; Bananas; Labelling of Goods - General Principles; Labelling of Goods – Pre-packaged Goods; Specification for Toilet Tissue; Specification for Cement and Specification for Rum.
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)
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.
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.
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’.
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.