The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has collaborated with the United States Division of Agriculture to hold a seminar on U.S Import Regulation for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, for agriculture stakeholders last Friday.
Director of Trade, Matthan Walter highlighted U.S. support to Dominica’s efforts to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens. Dominica and the U.S. continue to work together in many areas including trade.
“In 2013, export trade with the US reached EC$506,823.12, we exported approximately EC$424,967.23 worth of dasheen for example. We continue to export sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, teabags, nutmeg, other cinnamon, ginger and pawpaw to name a few to the U.S. It’s clear therefore that…our hard-working farmers in Dominica’s benefit from exportation to this market.”
The Director of Trade further revealed that in 2012 the U.S. imported over nine million tons of fresh produce to include bananas, pineapples, avocado and mangoes from Dominica. These imports doubled in 2016.
He urged stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities which these statistics present.
“We feel that when we are asked to make efforts to meet regional and international standards that the government entities requesting this are putting unnecessary pressures on the farmers and hucksters or trying to create hardships in their business. I want to tell you today that we live in a new dispensation and time is changing. Therefore, if standards are not met and regulations put in place by our trading partners not adhered to these training opportunities will be distant and non-accessible.”
Representing the USDA in Trinidad, Head of Dominica’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Unit, Ryan Anselm, said that the USDA in collaborating with its partners have put in place programmes and provided funding as well as technical assistance to prevent entry of invasive species to the U.S.
“Understanding the need for safeguarding the regions plant health resources we have established in collaboration with UWI a regional plant quarantine course which has sought to train 200 quarantine officers of the Caribbean. The programme has also trained 200 laboratory technicians in pest identification and diagnosis. Through the initiative of CAFSA and the USDA, FAO and IICA, the region has set to train plant health officials in pest risk analysis which is important when we speak of trade facilitation.”
Through the OECS three Pest Risk Analysis Units will be established in Grenada St. Vincent and Dominica.
Barbra Spangler of the United States Department of Agriculture is in Dominica facilitating the seminar.
“I will be explaining some of the tools that we hope producers in the industry can use here to mitigate pests before they come to us and what happens if we do find a pest in the shipment and how we handle that.”
“Dominica has been doing very well. We get what we call non-compliance reports which tells us when we find something when it arrives on our coast that is not correct, it could be the paperwork but it could be a pest that we have to take action on. The Caribbean has come a long way in finding out and stopping those things from happening. Some countries have more to do than others, however … the more trade problems you have it’s not bad because that means probably the more trade you’re doing. We would like to eliminate those problems when it comes to plant health but trade problems mean more trade so it’s kind of a trade-off.”