Speaking Notes for the Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, CD, MP, Minister without Portfolio, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries
LAUNCH OF ORGANIC STANDARD
June 22, 2016
Woodford Market Garden
I am honoured to be participating in this momentous event. The launch of the organic standard is timely, as the Government is fully aware of the role of agriculture in commerce and has already taken steps and will continue to strengthen the industry.
Jamaica continues to carefully navigate its way, as it charts a path to achieving economic sustainability. The Organic industry is one such industry that can help us on this quest. It is a multimillion dollar industry and persons all over the world continue to underscore the value of good health and the role that food plays in contributing to a country's economy.
The Bureau of Standards Jamaica is to be commended for working with the various stakeholders to develop a standard to guide organic production. Standards have always been the most effective tool for ensuring consistency in service delivery and guide the manufacturing of products. Organic certification has become an international language that is sometimes misunderstood or erroneously represented. This organic standard will protect the rights of the consumers and the rights of the producers and it provides clear guidelines regarding the declaration of products as “organic”.
It is accurate to conclude that some of the misrepresentations that we have seen is due to the lack of understanding of the subject matter. One might also argue that instances of misrepresentation of the usage of the term “organic” could be due to a deliberate attempt to misguide the consumer. The reason is debatable, however what is true, is the specific role of the organic standard and its value in ensuring that the rights of all concerned are protected.
I will use this forum to endorse local organic certification, through collaboration between the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) and internationally-trained inspectors from the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM). This will allow for local trade in the short term, pending the strategy for the NCBJ to work with overseas partners to become internationally recognized as a certified body for organic products. Following on from this move, we will seek to establish a Competent Authority, through regulations, under the Standards Act that will guide the operations of this industry.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is committed to facilitating the continued growth of the organic sector. The challenges are many, but as a people we have never been daunted by our challenges; we have always used our creativity, resilience, strength and determination to overcome. I am committed to providing the requisite support to the sector, as we take a multifaceted approach to achieving economic success. We taking nothing for granted but strategically utilizing all our gifts and talents. The organic industry has the capacity to be great. This greatness can only be achieved through unison of purpose and public education. Let us each pledge our commitment to achieving the desired goal.