The agri-food industry in St. Kitts and Nevis, will benefit from an enhanced national quality infrastructure, thanks to a new project financed by the European Union and the Caribbean Development Bank.
The initiative provides the St. Kitts Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS) with new metrology equipment and training, which will accelerate services to agro-processors, enabling them to fulfill quality requirements for international export and enhance food production.
Details of the “Strengthening the National Quality Infrastructure: Training and Equipment for Conformity Assessment” Project were announced during a ceremony held recently.
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Valued at €100,960, it is supported through the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building.
According to the CBU, by developing the capacity of the agro-processing industry, the project is expected to make agricultural products more competitive and improve market access.
The initiative will also promote economic diversification and increase employment opportunities.
These outcomes are particularly important to build resilience against socio-economic fallouts given the region’s reliance on the tourism sector, which has proven to be highly vulnerable to shocks such as COVID-19 and extreme climate-related events.
Through the project, the SKNBS will also accelerate improved quality standards for local food production and the availability of more nutritious food that will reduce food insecurity. More domestic food production can also counteract rising global food costs caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and contribute to CARICOM’s commitment to reduce Member States’ food import bills by 25 percent by 2025.
“Today we commemorate a landmark achievement for the agro-processing sector of St. Kitts and Nevis that will enhance competitiveness, productivity, and market share. CDB is proud to support this project as it directly aligns with the pillars of the Bank’s Agriculture Sector Policy and Strategy Paper 2020-2025 which seeks to promote an enabling environment and infrastructure for efficient agricultural value chains,” said the head of the CBU’s Projects Department Daniel Best, in remarks delivered during the launch.
Sheldon Jackman, project manager for the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM stated, “Increasing capacity of local producers to generate high value high quality products will allow for an increase in exports to key markets within the region and globally. In addition to improving trade facilitation, this project will strengthen consumer protection; advance private sector development and competitiveness; and increase the provision of quality, reliable, safe, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.”
The project is one of 25 standby facility initiatives currently being implemented across the region.