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CARICOM clarifying food trade policy

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

CARICOM, at the request of its Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), is overseeing the compilation of agriculture production and demand inside the Caribbean bloc.

Jamaica's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, also suggests that the issue of standards will be covered, and should ease some of the limitations on food trade in the region.

"We're trying to be a little bit more proactive. Once we know the standards, we can get our producers in the various countries to (comply)," said Stanberry in a JIS News release.

This move follows last year's regional quarrel over accepted sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards, which at one point blocked Jamaican patties from Trinidad's market but which was resolved after Government intervention.

CARICOM has also created a new entity called the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) to oversee agricultural health and food safety standards to ease trade in agricultural products.

The agency was launched on March 18.

CAHFSA's secretariat is in Paramaribo, Suriname inside the complex housing that country's agriculture ministry.

The compilation of the agriculture document is being overseen by Senator Arnold Piggot, Trinidad and Tobago's agriculture minister.

A draft of the document, incorporating the lists of 13 of the 15 CARICOM members, was presented at the 33rd meeting of COTED held in Suriname in March that focussed on agriculture, reports JIS.

The final version is expected to be presented at the next COTED meeting, Stanberry said, and once signed off on, will be distributed to all member countries, clarifying the rules for food trade.

Jamaica wants to trade in products such as patties, chicken, sweet potatoes and peppers, among others.