Efforts are being made to equip the Caribbean’s measurement scientists (metrologists) with training skills to assist industry in addressing their calibration needs as well as their counterparts in National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) across the Region.
Eighteen such metrologists, practitioners in the science of measurement, from a number of National Standards Bureaux in the CARICOM Region, are in Barbados this week to participate in a Training of Trainers workshop at the Divi Southwinds Hotel, St. Lawrence Main Road, Christ Church.
At the weeklong workshop, which opened on Monday, July 24 and ends Friday, July 28, 2017, Finance Manager with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Mohan Nandwani underscored how important the event was to aid in the facilitation of regional trade.
“When we talk about quality, we are not just talking about science, we are talking about developing the financial infrastructure of the Caribbean; trade – that is what it is really all about. Quality will drive the trade that the Caribbean does and it is only through these kinds of workshops and so on that we can build that quality which will eventually feed itself into public and private sector development, and trade is the key here. This is what we are aiming towards,” said Mr. Nandwani on behalf of CROSQ.
The Training of Trainers workshop was facilitated by CROSQ, but funded by the German Federal Government through the “Capacity Building in Technical and Scientific Organisations Using Regional Knowledge and Experience” Project, more commonly called CABUREK and the Regional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, known as the R3E Project. Both projects are initiatives of the German National Metrology Institute (PTB).
About this collaboration, Mr. Nandwani said: “This CABUREK project has been organised into three working groups of which the Working Group 2 is tasked with developing a regional training programme in metrology for industry. In addition to developing the curriculum and content for this training course, the Working Group aims to create a group of trainers that are qualified to offer training in mass metrology, temperature metrology, volume metrology and the estimation of measurement uncertainty.”
Calibration is the comparison of a measurement device with an established standard. Businesses of all types need this service to ensure that their measurement devices such as scales, thermometers and other meters are giving accurate readings. Their staff also need to know how to use these measurement devices correctly and how to do their own internal calibrations. This workshop aims to address these training needs of industry and other quality management professionals.
PTB Consultant, Mrs. Anett Matbadal explained a bit more about what CABUREK was and why it was important to the Caribbean and industry.
“The current CABUREK Programme runs from March 2016 to March 2018, so we are pretty much over half of this; and the idea is working with and learning from your peers. You are all representatives of NMIs and you all basically do the same jobs. CABUREK is implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean, so it is just logical to learn from one another.
“Some [of you] are a bit ahead in the development; some are still to find themselves, so it is good to sit together, work together in groups on specific topics, to learn from others, experience the good and bad lessons learnt. That is why this is a pretty interesting concept and you are here working within this programme,” said Mrs. Matbadal.
While Working Group 2 of CABUREK is tasked with Developing a Regional Training Offer, the PTB consultant said that overall the idea is to strengthen the capabilities of the human resource in metrology within the Caribbean.
“We start in the Caribbean . . . and that is the idea, [that this training can] be extended to other regions – Latin America or even beyond that. We started with developing a regional training offer, and you will understand that the basis for a good training offer is a good trainers’ pool, who is capable, well-trained, and our idea is that these trainers use standardised training material. So the idea is to develop certain training courses that the Caribbean needs, using standardised training material. It can be organised in every country, every region. It is targeting primarily, the industrial sector, private sector, public sector, but not the NMI itself,” said Mrs. Matbadal.
The training is being conducted by Mrs. Silvana Demicheli of the National Metrology Institute of Uruguay (LATU), with Mrs. Matbadal and CROSQ’s Technical Officer, Metrology, Mr. David Tomlinson, providing support, as part of the CABUREK group of trainers.
Metrology is the science of measurement and in the Caribbean region, most NMIs are located within the National Standards Bureaux.
The 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme has been deemed a success by its partners and stakeholders.
Concluded at the end of March 2017, the programme whose aim was to enhance the services of Quality Infrastructure within CARIFORUM countries to facilitate the smoother operations of trade, was centred around the development and equivalence of standards among Member States; development of metrology (science of measurement) services; the accreditation of laboratories and the development and implementation of testing, inspection and certification bodies and services, as well as the boost of awareness and information sharing.
The programme was managed by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB) and implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic.
Project Coordinator with CROSQ, Ms. Karlene Russell noted that it was a very successful implementation at a rate, as of mid-March, approaching 90 per cent completion.
“The main elements of the TBT Programme included capacity building in all areas of Quality Infrastructure. We also looked at international recognition of national and regional quality institutions, as well as regional harmonisation and equivalency, specifically related to standards development, and of course the promotion of a quality culture in the region.
“To date we have achieved 70 per cent of our performance indicators and another 20 per cent is about 50 per cent completed. So we are looking at significant progress being made in about 90 per cent of our performance indicators. And as far as the implementation of regional programmes go, that is a very very good result and we are very pleased with the success,” said the project coordinator.
The performance indicators are the benchmarks set in the project to gauge effectiveness and achievement of the objectives set within the overall project, as well as more specific areas.
The project was a 7.8 Million Euro undertaking, of which about 95 per cent had been spent up to mid-March, which was also concomitant with the technical implementation, added Ms. Russell.
These comments underscored those of Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo at two separate events in March, the Close-Out Seminar in Antigua and Barbuda, and then a regional press conference held via video conferencing systems and linking a majority of the Member States and Germany.
Mr. Trejo noted that he was exceptionally pleased with the progress and results of the project, and over the coming years, CROSQ would aim to strengthen the platforms set.
“During the next few years, CROSQ will focus on strengthening Quality Infrastructure in the Services sector and creative industries. We will also seek to implement programmes that foster greater utilisation of national QI services by the private sector, public sector & academia. Programmes geared towards international accreditation of conformity assessment bodies – such as testing laboratories, inspection bodies and certification agencies, will be continued in earnest.
“As we pursue our regional development agenda we acknowledge that the CARICOM region is seen as attractive for investment and recognised for our competitive advantage in niche products. Therefore as we continue to develop these markets, quality must remain at the centre in order to advance Caribbean Competiveness,” said the Chairman.
In offering congratulations, PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Ulff Hillner noted, “It was in many respects a very rewarding experience for us as a National Metrology Institute. It was the first time the European Union directly entrusted and awarded us as a national organisation to execute this kind of project so we have been able to gain a lot of experience along the way.
“It was rewarding because a team was built in the process that spanned the region that included the CROSQ Secretariat and staff, the National Standards Bodies in CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, so in that way it was a novel and innovative approach which proved to be quite successful. . . I think the achievements speak for themselves,” said Mr. Hillner.
Among notable highlights of the project were:
• The development of a Regional Quality Policy that is now set to go before CARICOM’s Council on Trade and Economic Development for approval;
• The creation of a Five-Year Regional Standards Development Priority Plan, which was the first of its kind in the world to provide the Caribbean with a forward scope for the development of Standards. It has already gained the attention of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO);
• The ISO9001 certifications in Belize, Jamaica and Suriname.
• The creation of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme that coordinates regional experts in assisting laboratories and other bodies seeking accreditation, at reasonable rates;
• Equivalence of standards with five commodities between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic – to ensure the standards set at both trading ends were similar;
• The establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories (CaRLs) in volume and temperature;
• Experts trained in mass and temperature in labs within the Region; and the provision of measurement equipment in all CARIFORUM countries;
• Awareness-raising about accreditation at the national level;
• Accreditation of five regional laboratories and one certification body utilising the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme; as well as testing laboratories in Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Belize, and an inspection body in Trinidad and Tobago which are on the way to accreditation.
• CROSQ’s observer status on the World Trade Organisation’s TBT Committee;
• The production of a series of videos about the development of Regional Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean, which are now available in 17 countries, including the Dominican Republic and Germany.
All eyes will be focussed on Antigua and Barbuda next week, when the 30th Council of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) meets for the close out of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme and Directors’ meeting.
The March 13 – 17th Council meeting is expected to attract more than 50 persons from the 15 CARICOM Member States, the Dominican Republic, and even as far away as Germany, as many international organisations and agencies affiliated with trade and the European Union-funded 10th EDF TBT programme arrive in the country for the meeting.
The first day will feature a Close out Seminar of the CARIFORUM 10th EDF-TBT Programme which began in 2012. The programme, which lasted for a period of five (5) years, and will conclude this month, and was centred around the building of the region’s capabilities in the several areas of quality infrastructure, and using these capabilities as a means of managing and reducing technical barriers to trade. Quality infrastructure (QI) refers to the development of standards for products and services; metrology - which is the science of measurements and its related infrastructure; accreditation, and conformity assessment - primarily the services of testing, inspection and certification.
The managers and implementers of the project, namely the German Metrology Institute (PTB), and CROSQ, along with the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL), will give a breakdown of the project, with discussions centred on the successes, challenges, and lessons learnt over the past five (5) years.
The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS), which is serving as local hosts to the week of activities and meetings, will also use the occasion to launch the Antigua and Barbuda National Quality Awards Programme, which, once fully established, will recognise local producers and manufacturers of goods, as well as service providers who are and have introduced quality management and other quality-based systems and activities into their businesses.
“This is going to be a big occasion for Antigua and Barbuda to host an event of significant regional importance, and also to introduce to the public of our country the concept of creating a quality culture with the launch of this National Quality Awards. These Awards, which will be launched on the evening of March 13 will say to our businesses that we recognise the efforts to produce quality for our own consumption, as well as for export to the region and the rest of the globe.
“It is an initiative that was encouraged under the 10th EDF-TBT Programme, but one we thought important enough to introduce to our public and private sector here in Antigua and Barbuda. It will be a great celebration and achievement for all of us; and to have the rest of the region watching the unfolding of this Awards will be a tremendous boost for the country,” said Director of the ABBS, Mrs. Dianne Lalla-Rodrigues.
It was a sentiment shared by Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo. He noted that the CROSQ Council of Directors was pleased to be hosted by the ABBS and the country of Antigua and Barbuda for the closing of the 10th EDF-TBT Programme which he noted had brought several notable improvements to the development of quality infrastructure in the region.
“We’ve seen advancements in equipment, physical infrastructure, skills of staff who have been trained in various areas and have participated in exercises to prove their competence over the period. I can say without contradiction that this programme has been a benefit to our region and has enabled us to form closer and greater ties with our colleagues across the region and further north to the Dominican Republic,” he said.
The Chairman said he was looking forward to the week of activities and to discussing with partners from the European Union, the CARIFORUM Directorate, as well as Germany and the Dominican Republic, the accomplishments that have been realised, as well as the valuable lessons learnt, which can be used for future developments in our quality infrastructure in the region;.
The 10th EDF-TBT Programme Close-out Seminar will take place on March 13, 2017 and will be followed by the meeting of the CROSQ Council, from Tuesday March 14, 2017 to Thursday March 16, 2017, where Directors and Executive Directors from National Standards Bodies across the CARICOM Region will look at arrangements for further developing QI across the region as well as other collaborative efforts for the year ahead.
About the 10th EDF-TBT Programme
The Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) component of the 10th European Development Fund - Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme (EDF-CRIP), "Support to the Caribbean Forum of the ACP States in the implementation of the commitments undertaken under the Economic Partnership Agreement", is funded through a Financial Agreement between the European Union and CARIFORUM.
The overall objective of the 10th EDF Programme is to support the beneficial integration of the CARIFORUM states into the world economy, to support regional cooperation and the development efforts of the Caribbean, in an effort to meet the requirements under the current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and CARIFORUM. The EPA-TBT component is expected to facilitate intra- and inter-regional trade as well as international competitiveness and sustainable production of goods and services within the CARIFORUM states for the enhancement of social and economic development.
It is implemented by CROSQ and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic, and managed by the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
Consumers need to be knowledgeable about the appliances they are purchasing, and for this among other reasons, the Barbados government underscored the importance of a new energy project launched recently.
Speaking at the CARICOM Member States’ launch of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, more commonly called R3E, Minister of Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce told the audience at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Bay Street, St. Michael that the project was needed “quite urgently” in the region.
“Why do we need it? We need it to ensure that consumers are knowledgeable and interested in purchasing efficient appliance; that retailers see the benefits of selling such appliances and that consumers and business places eventually recognise savings in their energy bills,” Senator Boyce stated.
He added: “In short, this project is important in order to maintain customer confidence in the industry ... and the installation of energy efficient and renewable energy devices thereby facilitating us to achieve the benefit of the reduction in fossil fuel usage and foreign exchange that we now spend to import those fossil fuels.”
He highlighted that the project would use the development of standards and testing services for adherence to standards to ensure the importation of energy efficient appliances, thereby reducing use of foreign exchange by reducing energy consumption and changing the source of generation of energy use in the region.
The R3E Project, said Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Jose Trejo, was envisaged to contribute to the improvement of lives of the average consumer in CARICOM Member States over the long term, by reducing energy bills in businesses, and assisting in making building more energy efficient through improvement in quality services.
How this project differs from others, Mr. Trejo, who is also Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards noted, was in its application of quality services the energy sector.
“The Project is timely given the regional and international focus which is placed on critical energy issues; and its negative effect on climate change and the impact on the region,” he said.
The aim of the project is to develop minimum energy efficient standards as well as a labelling scheme for refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting; to develop standards for solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels; to establish a mechanism to support standards in the testing of the appliances and the calibration of testing equipment and the temperature of the appliances; as well as an information and awareness campaign to bring about a shift in consciousness of consumers related to choice of appliances and behavioural change.
The Project is funded by the German Government, through the German National Metrology Institute, and implemented by CROSQ and the Dominican Institute for Quality in the Dominican Republic.
It is also expected to complement the work CROSQ in undertaking in relation to the development of Regional Energy Efficient Building Codes.
Regional energy expert and head of the CARICOM Energy Unit, Dr. Devon Gardner told the audience of dignitaries, heads of regional and international organisations, as well as the Directorate of CROSQ that the CARICOM Secretariat had placed matters of energy “very high on its agenda”.
He stated that in 2015 energy efficiency was placed as a priority within CARICOM, and in January this year, the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) for Energy, approved the pursuance of a strategy for energy in the region, a crucial part of that being sustainability.
“A critical part of that strategy is that we need to improve the efficiency within which energy is used in buildings; and so a part of that refers to the standards and regulations related to building energy use,” he said, noting that this partnership with CROSQ was hoped to bring about positive results in these areas for the region.
Dr. Alexis Valqui, Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean with PTB, stated that despite this being the fifth Regional Quality Infrastructure project Germany had undertaken directly with CROSQ, and partnering with INDOCAL, and it would be a learning experience for all concerned.
“Energy already is or will be visible in the future as one of the key issues and those countries or regions that solve the energy challenges will be also competitive in the future.”
R3E, which focuses on Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) in the Caribbean from a quality standpoint, is primarily based on the premise that the introduction of standards, testing and other quality-related services into the RE and EE subsectors, could result in significant changes to the way energy efficiency is viewed and the focus paid by policy makers, retailers, general public and other vital stakeholders in these areas.
Studies have found that “the use of energy-efficient devices, and the application of technologies for using renewable energies in the Caribbean, are impeded by the lack of important QI tools and services such as standards, testing, inspection, certification and labelling. Consumer protection is insufficient, as is the information on these instruments.”
It is a core issue the R3E Project seeks to address. It is funded to the tune of 1 million Euros by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) was on hand recently to celebrate with Eureka Medical Laboratories (EML), as the laboratory rang in its 21st year of operation by becoming the first such medical company to receive the ISO 15189 Accredited status, in Guyana.
In the ceremony held just a week ago in the South American country, CEO of EML, Mr. Andrew Boyle told the gathering of dignitaries that included Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, and staff, that it had been a long but worthwhile journey.
“The accreditation road was costly, rough and long but today we have reaped the benefits of our hard work. What a lovely and profound feeling of satisfaction that was! It is now that the work has commenced,” said the EML head.
Technical assistance was provided by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), through the technical implementation by the German National Metrology Institute’s (PTB) Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) 4 Project.
CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, whose regional organisation lent technical assistance to the lab to reach the accreditation, told the audience: “Tonight’s launch and celebration of the Eureka Medical Laboratories’ accreditation to the ISO 15189 standard for quality and competence in medical laboratories, bears testament to the development assistance and cooperative mechanisms of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme as we are recognising the accreditation of a second laboratory in Guyana within a mere nine months; the other laboratory being a testing laboratory – the Guyana Rice Development Board Central Laboratory.”
The CCA Scheme brings professional expertise to labs looking to get accredited, utilising personnel from the region’s quality infrastructure institutions. In the case of EML, the guidance was provided by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, whose laboratory certification programme to the GYS 170 standard, provided a stepping stone to accreditation.
Additional technical assistance to EML through CROSQ came from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) programme.
Congratulating EML on the achievement, Mr. Omar further remarked: “CROSQ is delighted to extend sincere congratulations to the Eureka Medical Laboratories for this remarkable achievement of being the very first medical laboratory in Guyana to be accredited to the ISO 15189 standard. This accreditation also represents the first medical laboratory to be accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) outside of Jamaica and the first medical laboratory to achieve accreditation through the CCA Scheme.”
CEO of JANAAC, Mrs. Sharonmae Shirley underscored the importance of this step to Guyana, as well as the Caribbean.
“This is important not only for trade but it is also important for tourism. It is important for health. The medical tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The EML has now enhanced Guyana’s reach into this lucrative market.”
Minister Norton commenting on the company’s successful five-year journey to accreditation, noted that this was evidence of the quality medical service available in the country.
“For too often we take it for granted that all we need to supply is service and we forget about the quality. Eureka has proven it wrong. ... While I applaud you for the achievement that you have made, I urge you not to become complacent, but to continually improve on and expand your laboratory service,” the minister urged.
Representative of PTB, Mrs. Anett Matbadal congratulated the lab on the success, as well as the GNBS in the role it played in assisting the process.
"I am glad Eureka Medical Laboratories has achieved this and I want to acknowledge the great help that GNBS was providing, because I still remember when CROSQ together with PTB was starting to develop the CCA Scheme in the region with two national bodies in Jamaica and Trinidad, and 15 National Accreditation Focal Points in the region ... We hope this accreditation will serve you well and open markets for you and in the name of PTB I wish you all the best for the future," said Matbadal.
Conformity Assessment Bodies across CARIFORUM States were encouraged on Monday to work together to build a stronger network to improve the quality and ease of regional and international trade.
The advice came from CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar, as the first ever Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week kicked off in Trinidad and Tobago this morning.
Mr. Omar further emphasized the need for harmonization of standards, processes and procedures, along with mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures covering goods and services as critical to facilitate trade.
Conformity Assessment Week, from November 2 – 6, is being hosted in Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, which is managed in the Caribbean by CROSQ, the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) and German Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesandstalt (PTB). The week’s events are being held in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS), under the theme “Advancing Caribbean Trade Through Quality Assurance”.
CEO of the TTBS, Mr. Theodore Reddock told the more than 40 participants in the workshop that, “the road to regional quality infrastructure”, actually started with the metrology group trying to develop a regional project and along the way attracted assistance from Germany, and North America and eventually broadened to include other aspects of quality infrastructure as well as the Economic Partnership Agreement and the European Union.
“I think we also need to reflect on the significance of what is happening now because in the process of developing regional quality infrastructure, conformity assessment is where the rubber really starts to hit the road. The theory is finished and the esoteric ideas have been discussed and now we getting down to the nitty-gritty – how are we going to be really positively affecting the region as a whole … When we talk about health and safety, the protection of the environment, education, all of these things that are important to us are major conformity assessment activities,” the CEO noted.
CROSQ Council Sponsor for regional quality assurance schemes, Mr. Robert Medford, also CEO of the Grenada Bureau of Standards, stated: “As our market space becomes more challenged, integrating the role of conformity assessment will be a critical factor, and we must ensure that proper systems or processes are in place. Without these conformity assessment systems and processes, realizing the full benefits of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be difficult.”
PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Valqui noted the growth in quality infrastructure in the region, as he congratulated the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards which recently claimed the International Organisation for Legal Metrology (OIML) Award for Excellent Achievement in Legal Metrology in Developing Countries. Dr. Valqui underscored the importance of conformity assessment in further advancing quality infrastructure in the region and thanked the European Union for all their development support in this respect.
The key event during this week of activities is the launch and inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) Committee.
The newly formed committee, which falls under the ambit of CROSQ, was established with the responsibility to develop the regional conformity assessment infrastructure as it relates to testing, inspection, certification and market surveillance. This meeting will provide the definition, scope and goals of the CANCAB, along with developing the strategic framework of the regional conformity assessment infrastructure.
Additionally, the week will include an Organisation of American States (OAS) FEMCIDI Programme sponsored regional workshop entitled “Conformity Assessment in National Processes – Building Regional Competence in the Disciplines of Conformity Assessment”. The workshop will bring together both private and public sector, including regulators and business support institutions, to introduce participants to the national, regional and international considerations for the preparation and application of conformity assessment.
The working meetings will end on Friday, with the 3rd Meeting of the Technical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment under the 10th EDF TBT Programme, which will develop a work plan for the period January 2016 to March 2017.
Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week 2015 represents a major milestone for the development of quality infrastructure within the region, as efforts are made to advance Caribbean trade through quality assurance.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer for Conformity Assessment, Mr. Trumel Redmond, expressed joy at the high turnout of the conformity assessment bodies from both the private and public sector across the region for this important week of activities.
A high level Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week - “Advancing Caribbean Trade through Quality Assurance” - will kick off in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, November 2, 2015, with representatives from most of the CARIFORUM States in attendance.
The week, being funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme, which is managed in the Caribbean by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) and the German Metrology Institute (PTB),is also being held in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS). The week, which runs until November 6, will comprise three important meetings for this region under the theme “Advancing Caribbean Trade through Quality Assurance”.
The first event is the inaugural meeting of the CROSQ - Caribbean Network of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CANCAB) Committee.
The newly formed Committee was established with the responsibility to develop the regional conformity assessment (quality assurance) infrastructure as it relates to testing, inspection, certification and market surveillance. This meeting will provide the definition, scope and goals of the CANCAB Committee, along with developing the strategic framework of the regional conformity assessment infrastructure.
Additionally, the week will include an Organization of American States (OAS) FEMCIDI Programme sponsored regional workshop entitled “Conformity Assessment in National Processes – Building Regional Competence in the Disciplines of Conformity Assessment”. The workshop will bring together both private and public sector, including regulators and business support institutions, to introduce participants to the national, regional and international considerations for the preparation and application of conformity assessment.
The week will end on Friday, with the 3rd Meeting of the Technical Implementation Group for Conformity Assessment, which will conduct an assessment of the objectives and results for conformity assessment within the 10th EDF TBT Programme, and then plan activities and objectives for the upcoming year towards the end of the project in 2017.
Caribbean Conformity Assessment Week 2015 represents a major milestone for the development of quality infrastructure within the region, as efforts are made to advance Caribbean trade through quality assurance. The formation of the CANCAB Committee, which comprises representatives from both the private and public sector, represents one of the more important achievements thus far.
Standards officers from across the region are gathering in Montserrat this week, from 21-24 September, 2015, to participate in three meetings hoping to move the standards process forward and ease some of the hurdles islands have been experiencing in development procedures.
Technical Officer, Standards, with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Fulgence St. Prix explained that the meetings in Montserrat were being held with the assistance of the 10th European Development Fund Technical Barriers to Trade programme, and would be attended by officers from 13 of the 15 CARICOM Member States, as well as the Dominican Republic. The only countries absent are Belize and The Bahamas.
Monday, September 21, saw a large opening ceremony involving officials of the Government of Montserrat, and was followed by a day-long brainstorming session which looked at the processes involved in regional standards development, the challenges experienced and possible solutions.
St. Prix noted that this brainstorming session, which was addressed by CROSQ CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar, was intended to inform a heads of standards divisions meeting set for early next year. That meeting in early 2016 is expected to deal with the preparation, adoption and implementation of regional standards. The brainstorming session will run until midday Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon will also mark the beginning of the Technical Implementation Group – Standards (TIG-S) meeting to look at the 2016-2017 Annual Operation Plan for the Standards component of the 10th EDF TBT project, being implemented in the region by CROSQ and INDOCAL, the Dominican Republic’s standards body, with funding and additional technical assistance administered through project managers, the German Metrology Institute (PTB). That meeting will conclude on Wednesday afternoon, when the Technical Management Committee (TMC) that oversees regional standards development will then begin its 27th Face-to-Face Meeting.
The TMC meets biannually to provide updates on standards and devise the work plan for regional standards. This meeting ends Thursday, September 24.
Farmers, buyers, sellers and other stakeholders in the production and export of yard long beans will come together in a major workshop from September 1 to 3, 2015, aimed at strengthening that agricultural sector and increasing exports.
The CALIDENA workshop is a collaboration of the Suriname Standards Bureau (SSB), the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the International Technical Co-operation Section of the German National Metrology Institute - Physikalisch- Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) and will be held at Medisch Wetenschappelijk Instituu (MWI) in Paramaribo, Suriname.
The CALIDENA methodology is a demand-driven approach which assesses and diagnoses quality infrastructure issues at each level in a value chain, with the aim of increasing competitiveness. Value chains in the CALIDENA project must satisfy set criterion such as real opportunities for export, experience and advances in chaining, diverse quality services, participation of SMEs in the chain, conscious need to improve the chain and motivation of stakeholders to dedicate time and resources.
In the case of Suriname, the country identified yard long beans as the agricultural product with significant potential for export. Stakeholders in this sector completed a Feasibility stage to assess its eligibility to participate in the project, which led to this second – Diagnostic stage in the form of a workshop to identify, promote concrete actions and improve the quality services of the chain.
Director of the Suriname Standards Bureau, Mrs. Ingrid de Bel-Simson noted that this was a great opportunity for the bureau to hear from the stakeholders and also assess the services the organisation offers and what it needs to do to assist in making the sector more competitive, as well as alerting the public about the capabilities of the SSB.
At the end of the workshop will be an action plan to identify the steps necessary to make Suriname’s yard long beans more competitive on the regional and international markets.
The shrimp industry in Belize is this week more certain of the way forward to addressing some of its challenges and how the Belize Bureau of Standards (BBS) can help producers, processers and distributors improve quality and possibly increase exports.
This follows an intensive three-day CALIDENA Diagnostic workshop that was the result of collaboration on the shrimp industry between the BBS, its regional umbrella body – the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and funders, the International Technical Cooperation Department of the German Metrology Institute (PTB).
The CALIDENA methodology under the CROSQ-implemented and PTB-funded project – Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean (RQI 4), has been focussed on improving the quality infrastructure in agriculture-related value chains among the CROSQ Member States. The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all the steps from creation to market, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product.
Belize is one of four countries in the second round of the RQI4 project to be chosen for the strengthening of a value chain, and the country chose its shrimp industry.
The workshop ran from August 5 – 7, 2015, at the George Price Centre in Belmopan, and concluded with a trip to the Belize Agriculture Limited (BAL) shrimp processing plant in Placencia, in the south of Belize. Approximately 20 participants spent the first day of the workshop learning about quality infrastructure and the history of the shrimp industry, conducting analyses of the state of the industry. The second day examined the legislations and regulations central to the shrimp value chain’s operation in Belize, regionally and internationally, while the third day examined a real operation and a GAP analysis of the industry, with a committee being formed to spearhead actions to closing the gaps and correcting the deficiencies found.
By the end, the group had identified challenges pertaining to technical regulations and inspection; standards and certification; laboratory and accreditation services; and metrology and calibration services. Among the needs found in technical regulations and inspection were – inspection services; standards and certification recommended frequent monitoring by a certification body, training in quality systems; in laboratory and accreditation services – an accredited laboratory facility, communication with and among stakeholders, particularly the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the BBS, training of auditors, and they wanted services in temperature and the calibration of scales as well as accreditation of calibration services to help facilitation of trade in the metrology and calibration area.
These and other needs were outlined in the action plan that is devised at the end of such CALIDENA diagnostics, and in addition to identifying persons to sit on the implementation committee, they also determined why these were the challenges they found with QI services, how these challenges could be addressed and by whom, along with timelines.
The committee is now set to meet before the end of the month to begin plotting how it will implement some of the actions decided on during the Diagnostic workshop.
Director of the BBS, Mr. Jose Trejo expressed thanks for the intervention into the shrimp value chain and noted that the bureau was excited and looking forward to the implementation process of the actions decided.
President of the Belize Shrimp Growers Association, Mr. Alvin Henderson said: "I think (the CALIDENA) has brought a lot of clarity to something that is increasingly urgent for us as a country. About two months ago I raised the issue with BAHA about the need for us to have an accredited lab and it is moreso urgent now."