BASSETERRE, Saint. Kitts. October 06, 2022. The Saint Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS) is now home to a new Metrology Laboratory that will serve the business community by offering enhanced measurement and calibration services.
The laboratory upgrades were commissioned during a ceremony on September 26th hosted at the Bureau. Speaking at the event, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Trade, Industry and Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Mrs. Jasemine Weekes said, “it is extremely encouraging to see that the Federation is very close to featuring one of the region’s best and well-equipped labs with the highest level of experience and expertise.”
Mrs. Weekes added that the government was excited to open market access for the business community, such as agro-processors, and has recognised that standards compliance is very important for local producers seeking to penetrate global markets.
“This initiative is indeed a timely occasion, as the Government seeks to develop and expand opportunities within the agriculture sector which is at the forefront of the country’s diversification efforts. There is the commitment by Government to re-energise this sector and stand with the region in advancing the CARICOM Agri-food Systems Agenda, to achieve the 25 by 2025 vision on the reduction of the food import bill by 25% by 2025. It is evident therefore that we are charting the right course,” she stated.
The laboratory enhancements were part of the “Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure in Barbados, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis” Project. The two-year initiative is financed by the European Union (EU) and managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building. The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) serves as the implementing agency for the Project.
In Saint Kitts and Nevis, Project outcomes have led to the procurement of equipment and training of specialists in the metrology laboratory, as well as aided in the development of a National Quality Policy for the Federation. Director of CDB’s Projects Department, Mr. Daniel Best echoed Mrs. Weekes’ sentiments about the gains made by the project for local producers. The pandemic, he stated, had underscored the importance of manufacturing for the region as a key driver for competitiveness and job creation.
“Today marks a major victory for national quality infrastructure (NQI) as a mechanism for effective trade facilitation in Saint Kitts and Nevis and other CARIFORUM Member States. The laboratory upgrades we have completed help to chart a clear pathway to improved compliance with quality standards that will lead to greater opportunities, particularly in the manufacturing sector… Through these investments and capacity building, local manufacturers gain access to accurate testing services that certify their products to meet export criteria regionally and internationally,” Mr. Best pointed out.
CROSQ’s CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar agreed, underscoring the role quality has been playing in preparing the region’s producing sectors for greater opportunities.
“A lot has been happening to bring partnerships of value to better integrate us as a Caribbean in trade and cooperation, and today’s lab commissioning to further strengthen our quality infrastructure, will go a long way towards continuing this journey to greater advancement for the region,” said Mr. Omar.
Project Manager for the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Mr. Sheldon Jackman noted the contribution of the initiative to boosting regional economies and trade.
“Just to underscore the significance of today’s event, a well-functioning Quality Infrastructure will open doors for producers in CARIFORUM countries to the regional and international markets, and particularly the huge EU market of above 500 million consumers, helping the regional producers raise the standard of their goods and services, and thereby enhancing their competitiveness,” he stated, further expressing the EU’s commitment to maintaining such collaborative partnerships as has been brought about under the project.
CARIFORUM’s Deputy Programme Manager, Mrs. Yvanette Baron-George thanked all the partners involved for their commitment to funding and implementing the initiative. She hailed the project as CARIFORUM, one-step closer towards development of a harmonised Regional Quality Infrastructure.
The upgrading of the metrology laboratory allows for an easier marrying of policy, as the Federation also now has a National Quality Policy, with the scientific measurement infrastructure which can now more greatly respond to the demands of agriculture and manufacturing sectors in such a way that complements national development objectives.