Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Harold Guiste is emphasizing the need for greater utilisation of Dominica’s multi-purpose packhouses.
Guiste says his Ministry is aware that the packaging quality of Dominica’s export goods has posed problems to the trade industry.
According to him, competitiveness in regional and international markets has hindered Dominica’s export growth allowing other countries to penetrate traditional markets formerly accessed by local hucksters and exporters.
He says this has also resulted in the suspension of Dominica’s bananas from the UK market and similar challenges with other crops.
It is on this premise that he has emphasized the need for greater utilization of the multi-purpose pack houses in Roseau and Portsmouth to ensure the highest quality of Dominica’s exported goods.
“The current situation,” he says, “where persons grab anything they can get, place it in any box or bag at any quantity and takes it out of this country is not giving us a very good image. It is my wish that all agricultural produce destined for the export market would go through a packhouse and persons who desire to trade in such products including hucksters would purchase it from the packhouse where all the requirements for quality would have been satisfied.”
Government’s multi-purpose packhouse initiative in addition to other programmes resulting from the 2009 Fresh Produce Export Act is aiming to regain and maintain the country’s market shares by ensuring a high standard of goods’ presentation through packaging.
The Bureau of Standards is responsible for the execution of these programmes.
The 2009 Fresh Produce Export Act provides for the quality control of the export of fresh produce, the inspection of fresh produce; the licensing of exporters of fresh produce; registration of packing houses and related matters.
Government is also investing significantly in quality institutions and facilities to enhance the market competitiveness of Dominica’s products.
These include three reception and distribution centers; the establishment of a national abattoir; three recently-constructed fisheries complexes and the National Centre of Testing Excellence for conducting chemical, biological and environmental analyses.
In August 2014, over $3m was made available by the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) to developing the quality of Dominica’s exports.
According to the Hon. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s 2014 Supplementary Appropriation Estimates, $745,411.41 was approved for the establishment of the packhouses.
The Permanent Secretary was addressing a quality infrastructure dialogue forum hosted by the Bureau of Standards and CROSQ last week.