KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica can now export callaloo to the United States, following the reinstatement of the crop on the pre-clearance list of Jamaican vegetables shipped to that country. This comes after the voluntary removal of the vegetable from the pre-clearance list in 1995 by the Agriculture Ministry, in order to protect the integrity of the export program.
This announcement was made Monday, August 13 by Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, at the opening of the Plant Quarantine Inspectors Workshop, at the United States Embassy in Kingston.
He explained that the process of reinstatement involved the training and certification of farmers and exporters, as well as the development of traceability programs and mandatory monitoring of callaloo farms and packing houses.
“I am pleased to announce today that the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Plant Quarantine Produce Inspection Unit has completed the process for the reinstatement of callaloo on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pre clearance list,” he reported.
The reinstatement, Mr. Clarke informed, would re-open another lucrative stream of income for Jamaican farmers, with the callaloo market valued at approximately $175 million.
Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke (right); United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Brenda LaGrange Johnson (centre) and State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Victor Cummings examine callaloo produced in Jamaica. Occasion was the opening of the Plant Quarantine Inspectors Workshop at the United States Embassy in Kingston.
While urging all farmers and exporters to abide by the export regulations, the Minister pointed out that the USA has been supportive, by providing the requisite training in several areas, including pest risk assessment, fumigation procedures, and pest identification.
Mr. Clarke pointed out that the workshop is aimed at training Plant Quarantine Officers in the area of port of entry requirements; inspection techniques; post inspection techniques; mitigation practices; identification services; and the handling of transshipment and international garbage.
He stressed that the training is timely and “will certainly improve the capabilities of our [plant quarantine] officers”, as the Ministry recently opened its first world cargo cooling facility at the export complex at the Norman Manley International Airport, to facilitate the transshipment of agricultural produce into the European markets.
“The Government of Jamaica is committed to giving priority to phytosanitary and safety issues and as such has established a National Agriculture Health and Safety Co-ordinating Committee with funding of some $12 million,” he revealed.
He said the organization is charged with the responsibility of ensuring compliance with international food safety requirements, and establishing and maintaining a farm-to-table agriculture health and food safety system.
The Ministry initiated the Plant Quarantine Inspectors Workshop to improve plant health and phytosanitary systems in the Plant Quarantine Unit. The Quarantine Section, which acts as a ‘watchdog’ against the introduction of exotic pests and diseases, also performs the task of pest surveillance, regulation of solid wood packing material and USDA pre-clearance activities.
Twenty Jamaican Plant Quarantine Inspectors will be trained along with 20 participants from other Caribbean countries, including the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Antigua, St. Vincent, the Cayman Islands, Suriname, St. Lucia and Barbados.
The training sessions will take place at the Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona from August 13-16. Technical assistance will be provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
The workshop is partially funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP), at a cost of approximately $500,000.00. Other sponsors include the USDA Caribbean Area Office and the Inter-American Institute for the Co-operation in Agriculture (IICA).