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Agri ministry's product testing capacity gets boost

Monday, March 24, 2014    

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A total of $67.9 million worth of laboratory equipment has been handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to boost its capacity for product testing and certification for compliance with international standards.

Most of the equipment, valuing approximately $60 million, will go to the chemistry and microbiology laboratories at the ministry's Veterinary Services Division in Kingston, while the rest will be installed at the Plant Virology and Plant Pathology laboratories at Bodles Research Station in St Catherine.

The items were handed over last week Wednesday at a ceremony held at the ministry's St Andrew offices. They form part of the European Union Economic Partnership Agreement Capacity Building Project, which is currently being administered by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

Portfolio Minister Roger Clarke expressed gratitude for the new pieces of equipment and the role they will play to modernise the labs.

He said, ultimately, the goal is to receive ISO 17025 certification for the laboratories, which is important, as it addresses the internationally recognised standard under the provisions of the World Trade Organisation Agreement on technical barriers to trade.

"Projects like these, funded by the European Union, continue to assist us in achieving our objectives in keeping with the ministry's aim of modernising our entities and divisions, so as to enable us to effectively facilitate agricultural exports and ensure compliance to global food safety regulations," Clarke said.

The items include a rotavapor, refrigerator, safety cabinet, water softener, 10 desktop computers, and an LC/MS 640 machine. The project also provides training, participation in international conferences, and study tours to benchmark the ministry's laboratories with its international counterparts.

"This equipment will enable us to concentrate samples for analysis; store fish and meat samples before analysis; provide a sterile environment for microbiological work being carried out, as well as analyse biotoxins, veterinary drugs and pesticides. We will also be able to do data gathering and analysis to produce reports for internal and external clients," the minister explained.

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