Failure to adhere to regional sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures saw Guyana losing some of its export markets in the Caribbean region between 2015 and 2020 but there’s a new and aggressive effort by officials at the Agriculture Ministry to regain those markets.
SPS measures are basically laws, regulations, standards, and procedures that governments employ as “necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health” from the risks associated with the spread of pests, diseases, or disease-carrying and causing organisms.
But not only that, in his reporting to the Parliamentary Economic Services Committee on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha said the government was also working to remove regional barriers to exports and trade of agricultural products.
“We have started work to remove barriers affecting Guyanese produce from entering Caribbean markets,” the minister assured the parliamentary sub-committee.
That includes a detailed examination of the suspension list for actual produce under the region’s Common External Tariff (CET).
“We already had meetings with Barbados and St. Vincent and we now have Guyanese produce going back to those markets,” Mustapha added.
He said the work was one in progress but continually aggressive.
“We have a number of produce and products export into Caribbean markets that was stopped,” the minister added while also updating the committee on efforts to finally receive breeding animals (bulls) which were paid for in Barbados several years ago but were never received.
Among some of the export markets lost are lime, pineapple, honey, cassava and pepper.
“We lost those markets, those products and produce we lost it because the previous administration didn’t follow the right procedure.
“They also never had regular discourse with the other countries and the previous government never made representation,” he noted.
Already, he said those items are going back to the Barbadian market.
“As a result, farmers are able to earn revenue in Guyana. Every month we are having farmers now filling containers to send to these places. Even North America and other parts of the world.”
Export includes adherence to complex procedures but it also calls for simply paying attention to details like whether fresh pepper can be exported with stems or without stems.