Who are CAHFSA’s stakeholders and how do you anticipate they will benefit from the Project?
CAHFSA’s stakeholders are at various levels of operation throughout CARICOM, generally our stakeholders are the Member States who are signatories to the CAHFSA Agreement. Our work is directed towards enhancing and developing that regime of SPS measures to be applied across CARICOM Member States. Within those states our primary stakeholders are the agencies that work with the SPS Agreement ensuring compliance such as Ministries of Agriculture and focal points for international standard bodies such as Codex and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).
In addition, our stakeholders include the private sector such as farmers, processors, and others that play a part along the value chain. We interact with our private sector stakeholders to ensure that SPS measures are applied along the entire value chain in accordance with the international standards, so they can be in compliance with market requirements required to facilitate trade and produce safe food for local consumption and for export.
Can you tell us about the Regional and National AHFS Framework that has been developed?
The regional policy and action plan will contribute to the overall strategic goal of enhancing the regional AHFS system to achieve the appropriate level of protection of human, plant and animal health and life as well as veterinary public and environmental health, improved food and nutrition security, and optimum facilitation of intra-regional and international agri-food trade.
The policy addresses regional AHFS systemic issues and urgent regional challenges and includes the mechanisms to gather and use data covering all potential sources of threat to the health of humans, animals, and plants in the region.
The Policy has four specific objectives including:
To enhance the early detection of and timely response to regional AHFS threats through regional cooperation and coordination of SPS measures and AHFS actions in an integrated and comprehensive way along the entire food chain;
To improve regional AHFS decision making through targeted gathering, analysis and use of data and science-based governance;
To promote the use of modern approaches and technologies in the assessment and management of regional AHFS risks and
To ensure sustainability of human, animal, and plant health and/or life and environmental health.
The Policy also has an action plan which outlines the concrete measures to achieving those goals in a period of 4 years and is a vital component of the ongoing long-term phased strategic process.
The national framework has the same basic elements as the regional policy, and we hope to pilot the framework in 2022.
What do you see as the potential impact of the regional and national AHFS policy framework that has been established?
Having a regional AHFS policy is paramount for guiding the direction and operations of SPS systems in the region; so, this is an important development. In addition, we have also developed a national framework that each Member State can use to develop their national AHFS policy to guide their activities. It is important that we have the coordination and harmonisation of AHFS systems as it will significantly contribute to facilitating compliance with international standards and requirements. Ultimately, a stronger AHFS regulatory environment will benefit the region in that we will be able to have safe goods to consume and improved compliance with the requirements for export. These benefits will accrue as we complete other aspects of the project.