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Caribbean to get food safety assistance from Europe

Guyana is among several Caribbean countries whose food safety and animal and plant health measures will be improved to help them take advantage of the European Union (EU) market, an official here said Monday.

Agriculture Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said an agreement for the 11 million Euro project would be signed between the Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the EU during Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) to be held from October 4 to 13.

The theme of this year’s CWA is “Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development.”

Ramsammy said the agreement would cover training and the provision of laboratories to help the region beef up its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) system and make a reality reciprocal market access between the Caribbean and Europe guaranteed in the Economic Partnership Agreement. “The problem is that while on paper reciprocal access exists, in reality it doesn’t exist because the sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other non-tariff barriers that exist sometime limit our access,” he said.

The Agriculture Minister said training of laboratory technicians without laboratories would render useless efforts to improve SPS system.

Experts intend to harmonize the Caribbean’s SPS testing regimes in keeping with recommendations approved by Agriculture Ministers of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM).