Caribbean: Strategic review and new action plan for CAHFSA

The Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) has agreed a customised action plan for the implementation of Fit For Market SPS programme support. The main aims of the action plan are to strengthen the agency’s organisation and governance; provide capacity building for its members and staff, including in COLEACP’s Rapid SPS Assessment Tool (R-SAT); and share expertise in facilitating intra-regional trade through networking and engagement with the private sector.

In September 2021, a strategic review webinar with CAHFSA’s main stakeholders set the baseline for a renewed strategic focus for the agency. Sixteen participants shared their views on CAHFSA’s institutional and operational environment in order to identify opportunities and threats. They also discussed internal strengths and weaknesses, and concluded by defining the ambitions for the agency.

During 2021 a COLEACP expert has been holding a series of online meetings with Dr Gavin Petters, recently appointed CEO of the agency, and Ms Juliet Goldsmith, Plant Health Specialist, focusing on a renewed strategic focus for the agency that emphasises delivering value to members and ensuring financial and operational sustainability. The conclusions of these discussions will be presented during CAHFSA’s next annual meeting.

Two online training courses are planned for CAHFSA members. The first, which started in April, focuses on “Organisation of Official Controls”. The training lasts 4 weeks, involving around 6 hours of self-study and 3 hours of live activities each week. This course covers the requirements of an official control policy with regard to the SPS Agreement and the International Plant Protection Convention; EU plant health legislation and its implications for third countries; risk identification and phytosanitary certification; and setting up an internal audit system and a financing system for a national system of controls.

And on 22 April, in a well attended e-meeting, Miguel Camacho of Axonica Consulting and ProFound presented recommendations on CAHFSA’s strategy to improve the performance of SPS in the Caribbean region. CAHFSA is a young association that wants to strengthen its support for establishing an integrated regional agricultural health and food safety regime, which will operate in collaboration with national policies. The aim is to facilitate a well organised and coordinated regional plant health system and to achieve high levels of food safety, enhancing the regional competitiveness of agricultural trade and at the same time advancing environmental protection and safeguarding public health.

CAHFSA was created as an Inter-Governmental Organisation by the signing of an Agreement among Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Located in Paramaribo, Suriname, CAHFSA is governed by a Board of Directors comprising one representative of each Member State, and a representative of the CARICOM Secretariat who sits on the Board as an observer.

This activity is supported by the Fit For Market SPS programme, implemented by COLEACP within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union.

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