KINGSTON, Nov. 24 (JIS): Jamaica’s small farmers and food producers are set to benefit from a European Union (EU)-funded project, aimed at raising the quality of food products and increasing access to export markets.
The project, being implemented under the €7.25 million Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) II Programme, was launched this morning (November 24), at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston.
The initiative, dubbed ‘EPA Support to Jamaican Food Exports,’ aims to work with farmers and small and medium enterprises to lift the quality of their food products, such as sauces and spices, Blue Mountain Coffee and packed fresh produce for local distribution as well as export.
It will also help producers identify and access new markets beyond the traditional export zones.
The EPA II programme is being executed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and is focused on improving the competitiveness of specific value chains with export potential, as well as strengthening the quality and standards control environment.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, in his remarks at the launch, noted that the project seeks to increase and diversify the country’s exports and impact positively on employment, while contributing to poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas.
“We welcome the positive impact that the project will have in promoting control in the use of chemicals in agricultural production, and wide implementation of environmentally-friendly management schemes, and relevant certification,” Mr. Hylton said.
He added that the Ministry also appreciates the greater attention that is being placed on international food safety standards and access to safer foods for Jamaicans.
He noted that traditionally, the country’s trade policies have been guided by the concept of selling primary raw materials and low value finished products into the global marketplace.
“We are moving beyond that and that is one of the reasons we welcome this project. We have to build the capacity of the Jamaican companies to upgrade and to become integrated into the global value chain. We must move beyond the domestic market,” Mr. Hylton stated.
The Industry Minister further noted that the project should go a far way in addressing the country’s trade deficit, competitiveness and growth, while integrating the economy into global markets.
For his part, Resident Representative of the IFC, Rajeev Gopal, informed that over the next 25 months, the entity will work with local companies and associations to connect small and medium enterprises in Jamaica’s food sector with importers, who are interested in buying Jamaican food products.
He said the IFC will seek to build the capacity of trade associations and others to better serve their members by increasing their ability to tap into new markets; and help farmers to improve their agricultural practices through business training, risk management and technical support, aimed at improving their productivity.
“The road ahead may have challenges, but it also holds significant promise. The IFC stands ready to continue being a partner to Jamaica’s food sector, its entrepreneurs and its farmers,” Mr. Gopal said.
Head of the Delegation of the EU in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, noted that with business reforms being undertaken, “we will see a more competitive and diversified Jamaican economy, to the benefit of all citizens.”
“The European Union will continue to assist Jamaica in achieving these objectives,” Mrs. Amadei said.
New Healthy Sail rules to ensure transparency and safety kick in, but not all Cruise Lines are on board
By Dana Malcolm
January 20, 2022 – The US Centers for Disease Control Cruise Sailing Order expired on Saturday January 15th and it means cruise lines will now be able to choose whether or not they want to participate. This “Healthy Sail” program is a set of guidelines for cruising which the CDC says will provide transparency about COVID management on ships.
Cruise lines which chose to participate in the “healthy sail” voluntary program will be subject to CDC guidelines. Cruise lines which opt out of the program will still have to adhere to masking mandates and report all COVID cases.
However, the ships opting out of the CDC Healthy Sail program, will not be required to make public their testing regimes for crew and passengers.
“There will be a lot of unknowns about what risk mitigation measures are being used on board because they will really be able to set their own protocols for testing of passengers and crew,” said Aimee Treffiletti, CDC representative to USA Today.
Naturally, this raises several questions about whether these ships will be required to make onboard protocols and findings public to ports of call.
Up to Monday, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines had opted into the program. Noticeably absent from the roll call: Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
Shocking changes in UK COVID strategy as demands intensify for PM Johnson’s resignation
By Dana Malcolm
#UnitedKingdom, January 20, 2022 – In a shocking twist Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that come Thursday January 20, the United Kingdom will no longer mandate the National Health Services pass for use in public spaces and offices.
Residents will no longer be mandated to work from home which could see hundreds of thousands of workers returning to shared office spaces. Face masks will no longer be government mandated for residents or in classrooms, the announcement was met with screams of joy from gathered politicians in the House of Commons.
Meanwhile omicron still manages to evade vaccines and boosters and Pfizer is scrambling to create a vaccine to temper the variant, which reportedly presents as milder in vaccinated individuals.
The news comes as trouble is brewing in the United Kingdom for Prime Minister Boris Johnson even after his shock announcement ending several COVID-19 protocols early this week. Calls for the Prime Minister to leave office have grown louder and louder with even senior conservatives turning their backs on Johnson.
It was said the softening of restrictions were to distract from the Prime Minister ‘bring your own booze’ staff party held at #10 Downing Street during the lockdown of 2020.
One Senator publicly switched sides and a former Minister told Johnson “in the name of God go.”
Johnson is accused of flagrantly touting the rules he himself out into place while fellow Britons were suffering during lockdown.
The BBC reports that so far six Conservative MPs have publicly declared no confidence in the PM, but more are thought to have submitted letters to that effect.
If Johnson does not step down or regain his party’s faith, a leadership election in the Conservative party could be looming on the horizon.
Unbossed, unbought Mia Mottley leads BLP to historic back to back, full sweep Election Victory
By Dana Malcolm
#Barbados, January 20, 2022 – “They who helped raise me carried me on this occasion…The working class, the workers of this country will remain at the centre of what we do.”
The words of Prime Minister Mia Mottley at her swearing in ceremony early Thursday morning.
Mottley was sworn in for a second term as Prime Minister alongside Attorney General Dale Marshall after a whirlwind of a year in 2021 where she reached international acclaim as one of the strongest and most respected Caribbean voices in the fight against climate change and being named a United Nations 2021 Champion of the Earth.
Mottley who also transformed her country into a Republic was voted in along with all General Election candidates of the Barbados Labor Party (BLP) managing to successfully sweep all 30 seats for the second consecutive time in history. Local media have dubbed the feat, “Red Wash Number 2.”
The elections which were called 18 months early faced foul cries and injunctions from opponents of the BLP but Bajan voters put the matter to rest with an overwhelming victory for the party.
A hoarse Mottley had much to say to the Bajan People
“Barbadians are far more perceptive than we give them credit for, we are buoyed by [the win], we are humbled by the confidence, I have given the commitment that I have to be the opposition to the government because I must not in any way break the oath that I just took.”
She announced that a revised Cabinet would be announced to the public on Monday after a weekend of careful reflection and rest. She made it clear that Barbados would be continuing on its track as a regional leader.
“We shall endeavor to continue the process of transformation so our country will be able to face [future] challenges, there is still the aspirations of development that we set as a nation when we became independent in 1966, closing the development gap, eliminating poverty from our landscape, ensuring that our children can be educated to the maximum and above all else that our people shall remain owners in their land and not tenants.”
The general election was contested on January 19th by representatives from seven parties and several independents. No official data has been released in terms of voter turnout yet but 266,330 Barbadians were eligible to vote.
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