Bridgetown, Barbados (IICA): Grenada’s fisheries sector is a major source of employment and income and a significant contributor to food supply and food security, as well as a key foreign exchange earner. It contributes more than 30% to agricultural output. In order to expand its global fish and fisheries product market share, exporters must meet stringent international food safety standards to ensure that their exports are not only safe for consumption but also free from harmful microbial and heavy metal
Towards strengthening Grenada’s capacity to ensure the safety of fish and fisheries products through stringent testing, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project, which is funded by the European Union, technical assistance is being provided through training, technical guidance, and the provision of equipment to the Produce Chemist Laboratory.
On June 7th, a ceremony was hosted to handover pieces of testing equipment to the laboratory.
Delivering opening remarks at the event, Mr. Gregg Rawlins, IICA Representative in the Eastern Caribbean States (ECS), said, “It is fitting for us to have this equipment handing over ceremony on World Food Safety Day, which is themed ‘Food Standards Save Lives’.
The equipment that has been purchased for the laboratory under this technical assistance activity will contribute to strengthening the national food safety testing capacity to ensure that fisheries products fulfil high standards with respect to hygiene and consumer safety.
Ultimately, this will contribute to Grenada meeting the SPS requirements for regional
and international trade.”
Ms. Mariana Arias, Programme Manager, EU Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM stated, “The European Union is committed to supporting trade between our regions as a key factor for economic development, increasing trade flows, but for that, there are certain food safety standards that trading partners require for exporting to the EU. That is why the EU offers support programmes to achieve those requirements, such as the 11th EDF SPS Measure Project. But it’s not only about trade, the impact of these standards on the health of the Caribbean population is equally or
more important. The safety of food products is key for the development of healthy prosperous societies because foodborne diseases have a huge health and economic burden. It costs Caribbean governments millions every year. However, if we follow proper preparation, handling, and hygiene, most of those 2 illnesses can be prevented.” Ms. Arias also highlighted the linkage between food safety and meeting regional food security goals.
The CRFM, which is implementing the Fisheries component of this Project and currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, was represented by Dr. Sandra Grant, Deputy Executive Director, CRFM Secretariat.
Dr. Grant stated, “The CRFM welcomes the contributions of the project to strengthen the Grenada Produce Chemist Laboratory’s capacity to analyse food, water, and environmental samples, which is essential for environmental monitoring and residue testing for the fisheries and aquaculture sector. SPS compliance in this sector is crucial, and improvements like these help us to ensure food safety and advance marketing and trade of fish and fisheries products. Given the mandate by the CARICOM Heads of Government to
reduce the region’s food import bill by 25% by 2025, this investment also promises to bolster intra-regional trade.”
Speaking on behalf of the Government of Grenada, Mr. Aaron Francois, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and Cooperatives thanked stakeholders for the technical assistance received under the 11th EDF SPS Measures Project. “In the Ministry, we are currently doing a lot of work on institutional strengthening.
We have recognised that in order to advance and to transform the agricultural sector we have to strengthen our institutions. We have been working with several commodities
in the agricultural sector for example, cocoa and nutmegs, which we trade with the European Union and other countries. Increasingly we are seeing demands being made for enhancing and improving our food safety standards. I am very happy that we are now looking at the fisheries sector in terms of enhancing the capacity for food safety.”
Permanent Secretary Francois further stated, “The fisheries sector is a very important sub-sector for Grenada. Over the years we have been growing this sector and with the high level of export trade that is involved in the fisheries sector, the food safety input is extremely important for us. On behalf of the Government of Grenada, the people of Grenada and the Produce Chemist Laboratory we want to thank the European Union for making the funding available to finance this project and our partner, IICA. The equipment we received, and the training will help us, particularly our fish exporters, to ensure that our exports are safe and as a result allow us to even expand trade.”
The Chief Analytical Chemist, Grenada Produce Chemist Laboratory, Mr. Erwin Henry, further reiterated thanks on behalf of the laboratory for the equipment received and highlighted the potential impact this intervention will have on improving export capacity in Grenada.
The 11th EDF SPS Measures Project is seeking to increase compliance by CARIFORUM countries with international SPS measures, standards, and procedures to improve international and regional market access. An important component of the Project aims to build the SPS capacity of the fisheries sector.