Grenada will be the last OECS member state where consultations will be held with agriculture stakeholders, to assist with data that can enhance Agriculture Food and Health Safety systems in the sub-region.
The OECS Trade and Integration Project funded under the 10th EDF is a key support project for the OECS Economic Union as the region works towards one space where there is easier trade of goods and services and the free movement of persons.
“Hence maintaining good quality agriculture products through compliance with international standards and effective food quality surveillance will help ensure food and nutrition security and easier trading across Member States of the Union, minimal quarantine of food and agriculture products, a significantly low percentage of food borne illnesses associated with imported foods and enhanced consumer and investor confidence” said a press release from the Secretariat.
OECS Agriculture Economist George Alcee said the importance of dialogue on enhancing food security because of the major contribution the sector makes economic development should not taken for granted. “The sector continues to play a significant role in food security, health and nutrition, providing sustainable livelihood opportunities employment creation, rural development, foreign exchange generation and preservation of the natural resource base,” he said.
Rodinald Soomer who heads the OECS Secretariat’s Economic Development Policy Unit says Member States are committed to transforming the Agriculture Sector to ensure that its system for ensuring quality food security makes the region more consumer and investor friendly.
“What we have done is to bring this down to the programme level at the OECS Secretariat and we recognize that a sound Agriculture Health and Food Safety System is critical to the achievement of many of the priorities identified by OECS Member States in the OECS Agriculture Plan of Action,” he said.
The Agriculture and food sector remains an essential pillar in the social and economic development of the OECS. The strengthening and upgrading of Agriculture Health and Food Safety Systems to effectively operate within the single productive space of the OECS Economic Union as well as Cariforum will go a long way in facilitating production Trade and Sustainability of all Agricultural commodities.
The first consultation opened in Dominica on May 12th, with further engagements scheduled for Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and Grenada.