The Government of Jamaica has embarked on a three-year Food Safety Modernisation (FSM) project to ensure that the country’s food safety standards are compliant with those stipulated under the revised United States Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The project, which will be implemented by the Food Safety Modernization Act Committee at a cost of $414 million, will be funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Agricultural Competitiveness Programme and the Fisheries Management Fund.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices in St. Andrew on September 12, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, informed that a major objective of the programme is the rehabilitation of the Agricultural Marketing Complex (AMC) on Spanish Town Road to required manufacturing practice standards.
He said for the fiscal year 2012/13, a total of $100 million has been allocated under the Ministry’s capital ‘A’ budget to begin roof and electrical repairs, modification to the layout of warehouses, and improving the restroom facilities at the AMC.
Additionally, the project will see the strengthening of institutional capacity within the Ministry, with the training of technical officers, including Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) staff, in good agricultural and manufacturing practices, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
The provision of technical and financial assistance to farmers and fresh produce exporters to meet FSMA requirements will also be undertaken.
The FSMA was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure that the country’s food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it.
The local FSMA Committee was established in October 2011, in an effort to develop a strategy aimed at improving the capacity and capability of farmers and fresh produce exporters in becoming compliant with the Act and to ensure continued access of Jamaica’s foods to the United States.
Mr. Clarke noted that compliance with the FSMA has significant implications for Jamaica as the United States represents one of the country’s major markets. In 2010, Jamaica’s exports of yam, hot pepper, ackee and callaloo to the US amounted to $2 billion (approximately US$22.4 million).
"Every effort must be made to prevent any fall out in the agricultural sector and by extension, the national economy," the Minister stated.