After 25 years at the helm of the main organisation for standards in Grenada – the Grenada Bureau of Standards (GDBS), Mr. Simeon Collins is saying farewell to his homeland, at least for now.
Leaving this week on pre-retirement, he is already tipped to continue offering his expertise in food science at the regional level, as he takes up the mantle of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), as CEO.
“I came onto the Grenada Bureau when it was a new institution and they were looking for technical staff. I had actually just returned home with a Master’s Degree from the University of British Columbia in Food Science and during that programme we were looking at standards and quality controls, and it was what I wanted to do in terms of standardisation and with my own background in metrology,” said Mr. Collins.
So he spent the next 25 years learning, even as he led the Bureau, because it was a completely new development for his country.
“When we started it was in a very anti-standards environment. When you went to help businesses and companies understand about standards, sometimes you were met with a very hostile environment. No one knew what standards were. There were, for example, supermarkets and shops that had products in bags that were just tied at the top; but that has changed. Now products are labelled and packaged.
“Now people are begging us to come in so they can get their standards up, so they can get accredited. Everyone wants to improve their business now because they realise how it can make them competitive, locally, regionally and internationally,” added Mr. Collins.
Over his period of leadership, he said the Bureau had led the development of over 200 new standards, the implementation of 50 regional standards and 25 international CODEX standards. Additionally, he noted there were also a number of technical standards that they were marching towards consistently, along with others they had implemented, like in tyres, flour and toilet tissue, to name a few.
The outgoing chief said they were also conducting inspections and tests, with an increasingly competent metrology programme running in the country that now controlled its scales and sewerage pump programmes. There are also testing facilities now for standards at the chemical and micro-biological level.
“We are touching on all levels of standardisation now, even in the tourism sector where attractions and other businesses are seeking accreditation. The Bureau has moved to become one we are proud of and where people are even asking now for more services.”
He added that he hoped the Bureau would continue with the programmes it had developed, even as it tried to achieve more – to continue with testing, certification, and the push to get its labs accredited through the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade project, facilitated by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
As he moves on to the regional level, Mr. Collins said it was not such that he was moving into a new realm, but continuing the old one.
“CAHFSA is the region’s answer to the WTO SPS (World Trade Organisation Sanitary and Phytosanitary) Agreement. We are looking at developing standards in the area of plant health and other areas, getting the headquarters to function as it needs to and developing the standards to meet our food needs.”
In offering his congratulation to Collins, CROSQ’s Officer-in-Charge, Mr. Russell Franklyn thanked the former director for his commitment.
“On behalf of the CROSQ Secretariat I would like to thank Mr. Collin for his support and commitment to the CROSQ Secretariat. I would also like to congratulate him on his retirement and appointment to the post of CEO of CAHFSA.
“I recently had the opportunity in Grenada where CROSQ, along with the GDBS, held a CALIDENA diagnostic workshop on the country’s nutmeg sector, to speak with Mr. Collins about his relationship with CROSQ in the past, and thanking him for what he has done thus far. I am sure this will continue in his new role and I want to wish him every success with this new Agency,” said Franklyn.
The region this week came one step closer to having a quality infrastructure policy for CARICOM states.
Earlier this week, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), in collaboration with the Barbados National Standards Institute, hosted a half-day long national consultation on the draft regional policy at the Courtyard by Marriott.
In her opening remarks, BNSI Director, Anthea Ishmael noted, "The expected result is to progress toward achieving a modern regional and national quality infrastructure, according to internationally-recognised principles for international trade as defined in the WTO Agreement and the TBT Charter of the EPA.
"This result aims to address the problem of lack of regional/national 'Quality Infrastructure' to facilitate and ensure compliance with technical regulations of international trade partners and with international standards and conformity assessment procedures, therewith strengthening the region’s international competitiveness and sustainable production of goods and services within the CARIFORUM states," she said.
CROSQ's Technical Officer – Standards, Fulgence St. Prix, explained that coming out of that event they were hoping to compile all of the suggestions and comments for further consideration, as the consultations draft now moves to Jamaica and then Belize for their participation as well.
"This is all part of the regional effort to consult as many stakeholders in the 16 member states, to share the draft policy with them, to get their input and also get the necessary buy-in for the policy. Barbados is the 14th member state we have consulted," he said.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards has withdrawn from sale a number of products with implications for health and safety of consumers.
The withdrawal affects a batch of toys, baby powder and small electrical appliances.
The following products, Rubee Baby Powder, Xiulong Electrical LED Torch and Ferhat Balls were withdrawn under the Compulsory Standards Compliance programme. The concerns for health and safety are related to possible skin irritations due to non-compliance in product labeling, choking and strangulation hazards for small children as well as electrical shocks from exposed wiring.
The SLBS is maintaining a rigorous market surveillance process to ensure products which have the potential to cause harm to consumers are intercepted well before they become available as well as aggressive monitoring at the point of sale.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Bureau of Standards (SVGBS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery, Rural Transformation, and Industry have established a Specification/Technical Committee to work on the preparation of National Standards for Good Agricultural Practices - GAP. This Committee is comprised of representatives from organizations with qualification, experience and/or interest in the Agricultural Sector.
The Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products. In simple terms, GAP stands on four pillars (economic viability, environmental sustainability, social acceptability and food safety and quality).
In recent years, the concept of GAP has evolved to address the concerns of different stakeholders about food production and security, food safety and quality, and the environmental sustainability of agriculture. These stakeholders include governments, food retailing industries, farmers and consumers who seek to meet specific objectives of food safety, food production, production efficiency, livelihood and environmental benefits.
The GAP offers means to help reach those objectives. Specifically, some of the Potential benefits of GAP are:
- Appropriate promotion and adoption of GAP from farm to fork will help improve the safety and quality of food and agricultural products. In addition, producers and consumers will benefit from global markets and improve their livelihoods and the national economy as a whole.
- Adoption of GAP will help promote sustainable agriculture and contribute to meeting national and international environmental and social development objectives.
- Adherence to food quality and safety will protect people’s health – an important factor in national development.
- Adherence to the GAP will also increase SVG trade competitiveness when its agricultural products are traded.
Once these GAP standards have been prepared, then a farmers’ registration and certification program will be put in place to ensure compliance with these standards, as well as to ensure that only safe and wholesome agricultural products are traded and consumed.
The theme of the 3rd CHART-CCAS-CMLF Conference was “Prevention benefits of antiretroviral therapy in Caribbean HIV patients: the central role of patient engagement in the continuum of care”. The conference explored case studies, reports and research from the Caribbean in areas such as: what constitutes a successful HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program, HIV testing capable of reaching vulnerable populations, destigmatising HIV, diagnosis and recruitment of HIV positive persons into care, retaining and monitoring patients during care to ensure effective drug adherence.
The conference also addressed key issues related to strengthening laboratory quality management systems and networks in the Caribbean, monitoring of access and quality of laboratory services, advances in laboratory networks and progress of regional initiatives.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards in collaboration with the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) hosted a national consultation yesterday. The draft regional policy, Quality Infrastructure and Conformity Assessment, is expected to focus on strengthening competitiveness and sustainability of goods and services produced within the member states of the region. Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Emma Hippolyte said such an initiative will strengthen and support the work of the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards.
Stlucianewsonline.com, (2014). SLBS, CARICOM to implement quality standards for regional products | St. Lucia News Online. [online] Available at: http://www.stlucianewsonline.com/slbs-caricom-to-implement-quality-standards-for-regional-products/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2014].
Nassau, The Bahamas -- Minister of Financial Services the Hon. Ryan Pinder said in order to create a quality infrastructure for goods and services within the region, the need for collaboration and cooperation among nations in CARICOM cannot be overstated.
Minister Pinder was speaking at the opening of the National Consultation on draft Regional Quality Infrastructure Policy hosted by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) at the British Colonial Hilton, Friday, August 22, 2014.
He said all of the countries within the region have their own unique characteristics including how they measure the quality of goods and services, which provides good reason for the existence of organisations like CROSQ in the region, and the great importance of meetings.
"The consultation is necessary to allow the countries to synergise their efforts and positions in relation to standardisation, conformity assessments, accreditation and metrology (accuracy in measurement of goods traded)."
Minister Pinder added that the need for standards is also important at a national level as The Bahamas looks to develop its economy and grow new arms of the economy, especially in relation to trade. "We need to be able to ensure that we have a level playing field and standards do that," he said.
Thebahamasweekly.com, (2014). thebahamasweekly.com - National consultation underway on draft regional quality infrastructure policy. [online] Available at: http://www.thebahamasweekly.com/publish/bis-news-updates/National_Consultation_Underway_on_Draft_Regional_Quality_Infrastructure_Policy36586.shtml [Accessed 3 Sep. 2014].
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), within the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, hosted over 20 persons from Stakeholders on August 20, 2014. The “Draft Regional Policy for Quality Infrastructure” national consultation held at the Agriculture Department Conference Room, was funded through the 10th European Development Fund – Technical Barriers to Trade Component and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
Quality infrastructure refers to all the fields of metrology, standardization, certification, testing, quality management system and accreditation that have a bearing on conformity assessment and quality.
The National Consultation was facilitated by Ms. Sanya Alleyne, Legal Officer at CROSQ and Mr. Fulgence St. Prix, Technical Officer- Standards at CROSQ. The purpose of this consultation was to review and discuss the Draft Regional Policy for Quality Infrastructure, specifically highlighting the gaps in the National and Regional objectives and implementation strategies of the Policy.
SKNVibes, (2014). St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau Of Standards (SKNBS) in collaboration with the CARICOM Regional Organization for standards and quality (CROSQ) hosts a national consultation on the Draft Regional Policy for quality infrastructure. [online] Available at: http://www.sknvibes.com/news/newsdetails.cfm/88561 [Accessed 3 Sep. 2014].
Efforts to strengthen the quality management infrastructure and continue the development and implementation of the accreditation programme of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) Laboratory, took a step further with the singing of the Memorandum of Understanding between CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality and GRDB. The Memorandum of Understanding establishes the framework for providing technical support and financial resources to strengthen the GRDB Laboratory in addition to the accredited testing of rice for Moisture Analysis and Physical Test by Grain Characteristics.
The Accreditation Programme is financed through the Caribbean Development Bank CARTFUND project: Strengthening the Capabilities of Testing Laboratories in the Caribbean to Reduce Technical Barriers to Trade. The project is being implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality.
Inset Mr. Russell Franklyn, Officer-in-Charge – CROSQ and Mr. Jagnarine Singh, General Manager – GRDB shake hands after signing of the MOU.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS) has issued for public comment another batch of draft standards for the agricultural sector. The standards proposed for adoption as Saint Lucia National Standards will go through the mandatory sixty day period for comment by the general public.
The series of standards are for grades of watermelons, waternuts, yams, potato and tania.
Other agricultural standards for grades of grapefruit, mangoes, pineapples, oranges, plantain and tomatoes were issued for public comment last year as part of the overall effort to strengthen the agricultural sector.
Quality standards play a critical role in trade, creating access to markets and making products and services competitive. The SLBS is aggressively supporting the Ministry of Agriculture’s programme to improve the potential for export of agricultural produce other than bananas.
In addition, draft standards for wheat flour, rice and pasta products are also published for comment.
The public comment phase in the process of adoption of a standard is critical to the implementation of standards. It is important that the users have an opportunity to recommend changes to or even removal of areas which may place unreasonable demands on the sector.
It is desirable to have those who will be most impacted to have critical input into the final version of the document and create awareness of the requirements and expectations related to quality in their sectors.
Everyone with interest can comment on the draft standards which are available online at www.slbs.org.lc/draftstandards, in the reference section of all national libraries or at the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards at Bisee. The standards have also been made available to stakeholder associations for distribution to their membership.
The deadline for comments is Thursday 26th September 2014.
All comments on the standards should be addressed to the Head of the Standards Development Department of the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards, Bisee Industrial Estate, Box CP 5412, Castries.