The Caribbean is now much more equipped to ensure safety from pesticides in fruits and vegetables with the accreditation of the University of the West Indies’ Jamaica-based Pesticide Research Laboratory (PRL) less than a week ago.
The laboratory was accredited in the area of Food Testing by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), thanks to the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) Project funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and administered by the Caribbean Development Bank. The project was implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
PRL can now provide pesticide residue analysis on fruits and vegetables with this accreditation and be assured that the test results will be internationally acceptable. It is the first laboratory to have received this accreditation, specifically for pesticides, in the region.
Remarks from CROSQ’s CEO Mr. Deryck Omar were delivered by head of the University’s Pesticide Research Laboratory, Professor Tara Dasgupta. In the remarks, Mr. Omar noted that CROSQ and others had extended technical support to the laboratory in securing the certification, which was the second such accreditation performed through the regional organisation’s Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme. The CROSQ-CCA Scheme provides conformity assessment bodies with regional opportunities to access affordable and reliable available development assistance in pursuit of accreditation.
“Jamaica and the Caribbean at large are well known for its vast array of fresh fruits and vegetable which provide immense nutritional value. More of these fruits and vegetables are being processed along the value chain as the region seeks to increase its capacity in creating value added products,” the CEO stressed.
He further extended thanks to technical consultant Ms. Maxine Campbell for her assistance to the laboratory, as well as the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its support, and the CDB and DFID for the financial backing. Thanks were also expressed to Professor Dasgupta, Dr. Raymond Reid and the team at PRL for their commitment to seeing the process through to successful completion.
The accreditation ceremony was officiated by Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, who noted, “A strengthened NQI [National Quality Infrastructure] means that the products and services developed in Jamaica and tests conducted by our laboratories are trusted internationally. It means realizing the full benefits of the National Export Strategy.”
The Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB)’s Central Laboratory has made history by becoming the first laboratory in Guyana to become accredited to the International Standards Organisation’s ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The ISO standard is used by laboratories in developing their management system for quality, administrative and technical operations. Laboratory customers, regulatory authorities and accreditation bodies may also use it in confirming or recognizing the competence of laboratories.
By earning this standard, the GRBD has achieved several significant milestones including becoming the first laboratory in the region to have:
- attained accreditation through the CARTFund, the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund financed by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
- been assisted towards achieving accreditation by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) functioning as the National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP)
- become accredited outside of Jamaica utilising the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC)
- earned accreditation through the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme created by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ).
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a partner in the CARTFund Project, noted that the accreditation was a particularly gratifying step, and a very important achievement for the Project.
“A major constraint to trade and market access, even where tariffs have been eliminated, is the ability to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards and quality requirements”, said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division of the Caribbean Development Bank. “The Accreditation of the GRDB Central Laboratory means that the rice sector in Guyana now has access to accredited testing services. This is a significant milestone in the development of the value chain of the Rice subsector in Guyana”.
CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar shared the view that this was an excellent example of countries supporting each other using specialised expertise and resources.
“This accreditation demonstrates functional regional integration as together each achieves more. It is a positive development to see how the expertise of JANAAC was brought to bear in supporting Guyana in this process. The CCA Scheme has several advantages as conformity assessment bodies receive coaching, training and development assistance towards achieving accreditation. We find this approach to be economical and practical,” said Mr. Omar.
Permanent Secretary in Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. George Jervis further described the achievement of the accreditation as auspicious, because GRDB is the country’s lead agency in agriculture.
“Prior to this certification, the Guyana Rice Development Board was tasked with sending samples for testing to the USA, which roughly took two weeks for results. Today, we no longer have to take this route. Being ISO/IEC certified is a useful tool which will add credibility by demonstrating that rice coming out of Guyana meets the expectations of our buyers”, he said, reading a prepared speech from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Noel Holder.
The accreditation process began under the project in 2014 and was accelerated with receipt of a grant of US$522,401 from the CARTFund.
The objective of the CARTFund project is to strengthen the capabilities of testing laboratories in CARIFORUM Member States to provide reliable, competent, internationally recognised and affordable testing services to exporters. CROSQ and the CDB are the implementing partners for the Project.
As the newest standards bureau in the region, The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is now well on the way to enhancing its offering of accreditation and measurement standardisation services with the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) recently.
Minister of Financial Services, Hon. C. V. Hope Strachan, under whose portfolio the BBSQ resides, signed the documents on April 30, 2015, to establish the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme, and to recognise the Bureau of Standards Jamaica’s (BSJ) Mass Metrology Laboratory as the Caribbean Reference Laboratory (CaRL) for Mass Metrology.
Accreditation, which is a third-party attestation, refers to the demonstration of competence in certification, inspection and testing, by a conformity assessment body. The CCA Scheme brings together such bodies for the purpose of mutual cooperation and collaboration toward facilitating trade in the Caribbean region and internationally. CROSQ coordinates the support services for these facilities.
Metrology, on the other hand, is the science of measurement; and the CaRL Scheme is aimed at providing economical and sustainable traceability in specific quantities by National Metrology Institutes (NMI) within the region. A CaRL is a metrology laboratory within a NMI or Designated Institute in the CARICOM region, recognised by CROSQ as a regional reference lab for a specific measurement quantity or magnitude within a defined scope.
The signing of the two documents have begun the process of moving the national standards body, BBSQ in The Bahamas, from its early conceptual phase into being the premier institution in the country for quality infrastructure services.
With the CCA Scheme in place, the BBSQ will be better able to access economical and readily available accreditation services through the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS); be able to facilitate the development of regional quality infrastructure as well as facilitate regional and international trade; provide avenues for manufacturers to expand their markets, as well as give them local access to internationally recognised conformity assessment services, among other benefits.
Being a signatory to the CaRL MOU for Mass Metrology will mean that the BBSQ will have access to calibrations at reduced cost from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica for its national reference mass standards. This will translate into a reduced cost for maintaining the traceability of mass measurements in The Bahamas. Additionally, the BBSQ will be able to access technical assistance from the BSJ mass metrology experts, which will prove especially important as the BBSQ now develops its capability in this area.
Director of the BBSQ, Dr. Ferguson-Bufford was particularly heartened by the signing of the CaRL MOU between the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, and the Government of The Bahamas. She noted that the role of the CaRL was to provide measurement traceability to the Caribbean region by serving as the ‘entry point’ of the highest measurement capability within the region characterised by having an international recognised quality management system, the smallest measurement uncertainty and highest technical capability in the region.
The completion of the CCA MOU will happen when the CROSQ Council meets in Barbados this week, from May 6 – 8, to set that scheme in motion and empower the Bahamian bureau as far as accreditation services are concerned.
“We have been working for quite some time to get the Bureau of Standards in The Bahamas up and running effectively and the signing of these MOUs demonstrate a commitment to making our country one of the regional leaders of quality infrastructure. We have been sensitizing Bahamians on the importance and benefits of standards, and also promoting and implementing quality services into everything that we do. Now, the Bureau has more power to begin to offer the services that our private and public sectors need to make them more competitive on regional and international markets.
“I would like to thank Minister Strachan for committing to the process all the way, as well as to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) for lending the technical assistance to get us to this point, and their continued commitment to ensure that we are fully operational. As the ‘new kid on the block’ as far as regional QI is concerned, we know a lot is expected and we will strive, harder than ever, to live up to those expectations,” said Dr. Ferguson-Bufford.
This move towards further development of the BBSQ has been made possible through funding by the European Union through the 10th European Development Fund Economic Partnership Agreement Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, and private USA lending companies like, Instant Same Day Loans 24, Amone, Country Wide and others, focusing on Technical Barriers to Trade.