BSJ equipped to give global stamp of approval
The Bureau of Standards of Jamaica (BSJ) is now equipped to give an international stamp of approval on products it tests, no longer needing to send them overseas for testing.
"We now have the capacity for doing our own testing because our testing labs are getting to be internationally accredited, which means that we do not have to send our products abroad for testing, we are testing them here. And once you test here, you don't have to retest, you are therefore qualified to integrate into the global space," Professor Winston Davidson shared with The Gleaner last Wednesday morning.
The BSJ board chairman was explaining the importance of having its chemistry laboratory international accredited and three others - metrology, microbiology as well as packaging and labelling - on track for similar certification by year end.
After chairing the official hand-over ceremony for approximately $35 million worth of laboratory equipment (€ 231,404.72 from the European Union) at the BSJ's St Andrew office, Professor Davidson sought to put into context the potential impact of this mega capacity-building project.
"Our chemistry lab has been in existence since 1969 and has never been globally accredited," he told The Gleaner. "Now it is and so what you are therefore seeing is a rapid building out of the national quality infrastructure to give Jamaica the capacity for full export right across the spectrum of products and services, globally."
Under the Government of Jamaica-European Union Co-operative Programme Economic Partnership Agreement Capacity Building Project, the chemistry laboratory at the Veterinary Division of the agriculture ministry and the Pesticide Research Laboratory located on the premises of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, also received well-needed equipment valued at more than €710,034.60 or almost $107 million.
The BSJ's chemistry laboratory attained accreditation for nine food tests and the other labs are 85-90 per cent along the way to achieving this international quality standard benchmark.
Stephen Wedderburn, chief technical director in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, urged local business operators to strive to adopt international standards, as this would significantly boost the chances of their goods and services being accepted in many more markets across the world.
He said: "By adopting international standards, suppliers can conduct development for their products and services on the basis of specifications that have wide acceptance in their sector. And in turn, this means that businesses that use international standards are increasingly keen to compete in many more markets around the world."
challenge to Jamaicans
Describing the equipment handover as much more than a shot in the arm, Wedderburn challenged Jamaicans to recognise the full value of this multi-million gift package and work hard to build on it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is critical that we gear up to tackle the challenges we face globally and position ourselves for survival and sustainable growth. We must continue in particular, to upgrade our facilities and create an enabling environment to support increased compliance of our exporters in particular with international quality standards. Equally important, we must upgrade our facilities and build the capacity of the Bureau as we continue efforts to make ourselves more competitive," Wedderburn said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Paola Amadei, head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, reminded her audience that international trade is no longer a simple matter of import and export of goods, but of accessing increasingly global supply chains. Noting that Jamaica has started the necessary trade and business-related reforms which are beginning to show positive results, but much more still needs to be done.
"Ultimately the success of Jamaica will depend on its capacity to adapt to the changing global economic environment and to create an internationally competitive economy," Ambassador Amadei advised.
"It is my hope and expectation that, as a result of the increased price competitiveness and higher investment, coupled with the ongoing business facilitation reforms, the private sector will be able to better exploit opportunities for export and growth. The EU will assist Jamaica in achieving these objectives to the benefit of all its citizens."