Plant Quarantine Division helping to boost trade
The Plant Quarantine Division (PQD) in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is playing a key role in helping to boost trade in agricultural produce and ensuring that citizens have access to safe, quality foods.
Chief technical director in the Ministry, Dermon Spence, said the expansion of trade is part of Government's strategic objectives for the sector.
"Our strategic mission involves several activities that are critical to supporting the quality of produce to ensure that we consistently meet the standards that are established by the importing country, to show that we understand what the rules are that govern the trade of these produce," he noted.
This includes ensuring that exporters adhere to sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to protect human, animal and plant life from risks arising from additives, contaminants, toxins or disease-causing organisms. Certain products require such certification by importing countries.
First line of defence
Spence said the division is the first line of defence in preventing the entry of diseases into Jamaica through the issuing of import permits, inspection of import/export cargo and baggage at ports of entry, seizures of import/export cargo and baggage and the execution of post-entry inspections.
He said the PQD's inspection and certification services ensure that produce leaving and entering the country will stand up to scrutiny and still have the desired nutritional and taste benefits that they offer.
Spence said compliance and enforcement of the measures are critical to protecting international trading relationships and securing ready markets for exports.
He noted that when breaches occur at the ports "the impact is rippling and severe".
He pointed out that one pest entering the country could wipe out an entire species, be it animal or plant life.
"Everyone wins when the regulations of the PQD are upheld... farmers realising the benefits of their toil, lifting their standard of living and ensuring we are able to move the country forward in terms of production and alleviating poverty through increased exports," Spence noted.