Date: October 22nd, 2021
The Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) is supporting the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries in its thrust to increase and improve agricultural production including local crop, aquaculture and horticulture production. This is being done through the development of a draft Action Plan that will assist TTBS and stakeholders in the agriculture sector to improve the quality of goods and services used in the sector and allow for the more efficient use of resources.
The Draft Action Plan was developed during a workshop, “Promoting Dialogue between the National Quality Infrastructure (QI) and the Agriculture sector in Trinidad and Tobago” which was held on Tuesday 19th October, 2021 and Thursday 21st October, 2021.
The draft plan is based on the input of quality infrastructure parameters (standards, conformity assessment – inspection, testing, certification, metrology, accreditation, market surveillance and awareness and education) into the agriculture sector and will be developed for proposed implementation within the next twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months once approved.
The National Dialogue workshop served as a means to:
- Increase awareness and understanding of the private sector to the importance of quality and standards in making their businesses more competitive.
- Increase participants’ understanding of the role of QI in enhancing the development of the agriculture sector, and;
- Provide guidance to the Trinidad and Tobago’s QI, to structure its services to match the needs for the agriculture sector, some of which include; to promote and increase the use of Good Agricultural Practices (TTS 648:2020) Standard, to increase crop production and enhance the quality of local fruits and vegetables, to increase the production of good quality marine products for sustainable fishery(aquaculture), to increase the production of good quality livestock (small ruminants), and to increase the production of good quality ornamental products.
Speaking at the National Dialogue, on behalf of TTBS Chairman, Mr Lawford Dupres, Mr Rodney Ramnath, Manager Certification Division said, “Quality Infrastructure is a key component of international trade facilitation. A well-coordinated QI is essential for domestic markets and for products to gain access to foreign markets. For developing and transitioning economies, raising awareness of a country’s National Quality Infrastructure and the application of standards can lead to a host of benefits some of which include; creating better, safer, and more sustainable products, increasing domestic commercial activity and enhancing consumer protection.”
CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) CEO, Mr Derek Omar added that the draft Action Plan would assist in the inclusion and expansion of quality systems and procedures into the agriculture sector in Trinidad and Tobago. Mr Omar explained, “With funding through the European Union, and with TTBS on board, alongside CROSQ, the German Metrology Institute and the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality, this 11th European Development Fund, Economic Partnership Agreement, Technical Barriers to Trade Programme, which we commonly call the 11th EDF-EPA TBT Programme of which this National Dialogue forms part, views the strides being attempted today as contributing to the overall goal of reducing the barriers to trading with the region and the world. We recognise that in this instance, trade in products within the agriculture sector has the potential to increase foreign exchange earnings and make our countries more competitive on the global market.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms. Ayleen Alleyne-Ovid commented on the many benefits of the dialogue saying, “The objectives of this National Dialogue, are strategically aligned with Trinidad and Tobago’s National Development Strategy, Vision 2030 and the recently developed Roadmap to transition the country towards a more diversified economy, that produces a broad spectrum of export competitive, high-value goods and services. In this regard, the Government has identified agriculture and agro-processing, as well as, fish and fish processing among seven (7) economic areas for the establishment of new business clustering. Food security must be embraced at all costs, and the Government has mandated that the expansion of the agricultural sector must go hand in hand with the necessary food support programmes that targets the most vulnerable in society.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Ms Susan Shurland, noted that the collaboration between TTBS and the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO) on the development of the Good Agricultural Practices – Fresh Produce Requirements (TTS 648:2020) Standard has already brought numerous benefits to the agriculture sector.
Ms. Shurland said, “The local distribution channel for fresh produce and agro-processed or value-added products are available at several outlets throughout Trinidad and Tobago, within which produce certified according to the TTS 648:2020 will also be available. These range from fresh produce markets, supermarkets, restaurants, fast food outlets to other places that provide packaged or processed fresh produce. There is also the medium to long-term goal of regional and international exports.”
The draft Action Plan will be further refined over the next month with the continued engagement of the agriculture sector stakeholders prior to being submitted for approval, with implementation slated to begin in January 2022.