Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, has said that Jamaica should set certified standards, which importers must meet in order to distribute imported products on the local market.
“We are in a global village where people are saying ‘if Jamaica is going to send goods into my part of the village, you must meet certain standards’…why is it that we in Jamaica don’t also set certain standards?” he asked.
“If other countries are saying to us, I’m going to send an inspector to Jamaica to inspect your processing facility, (and) office and warehousing facilities, and I have to certify them in order for you to send your goods into my marketplace – I think the time has come for Jamaica to begin to certify others to come into this marketplace,” he added.
Mr. Montague was addressing a recertification ceremony held at the Ministry’s Old Hope Road headquarters on September 20, where parish managers of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) were presented with certificates on behalf of their extension officers across the 13 parishes that RADA services.
Citing the Public Health and Factories Act, which stipulates the standards for sanitary facilities in local factories, he questioned “why then can’t we put that up to the world, and say to the world, if you want to send things into Jamaica, the factory that you produce goods in must be up to our standards, because our primary responsibility is to protect our people.”
Mr. Montague stressed that the local marketplace was of vital importance to importers, “and if we don’t put a premium on our marketplace, they are not going to put a premium on our marketplace.”
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister said the country must seek to focus on the crops that it produces efficiently.
“We must reach a point where we have to give up some things. We are trying to be all things to all men at all times, and it cannot work,” he stated.