Antigua and Barbuda this week hosted a workshop looking at an agricultural health
and food safety project as part of a regional project that is being implemented here
in the pilot phase.
The workshop brought together senior technicians in the Ministry of Agriculture as
well as technicians from related agencies such as the International Institute for
Cooperation in Agriculture, the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety
Agency (CAHFSA), and the funding agency, the European Union.
The workshop’s objectives were to devise and implement an agricultural health
and food safety policy for Antigua and Barbuda, following which they are to have
these policies implemented regionally, with the other territories adopting the best
practices and other modalities successfully introduced in Antigua and Barbuda.
This comes against the recognition that contaminated food can significantly impact
human health, causing illnesses ranging from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to
serious and even life-threatening conditions. According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), contaminated food is responsible for an estimated 600
million cases of foodborne illnesses and 420,000 deaths worldwide each year.
Agriculture Minister, E.P. Chet Greene said it is essential to have strong policies
and regulations in place, to prevent and respond to foodborne illnesses in order to
protect the health and well-being of consumers, and the livelihoods of those
involved in the food production and marketing chain.
“A policy on agricultural health and food safety can help to protect the health of
consumers, livestock, and crops. The policy on agricultural health and food safety
that is being validated by you, the participants, speak to a number of key issues:-
1. The need for strict standards for the use of pesticides and fertilizers; 2. The need
for producers and processors to have access to the latest agricultural information
and technology; 3. The establishment of effective monitoring and surveillance
systems to detect and respond to outbreaks of animal and plant diseases,” he stated.
According to the agriculture minister implementing a national policy on
agricultural health and food safety will ensure that the food produced in Antigua
and Barbuda is safe for consumption and meets international standards, and such a
policy on agricultural health and food safety is crucial for the sustainable
development of Antigua and Barbuda and the wider Caribbean.
“I wish to reinforce the importance of a clear policy on agricultural health and food
safety and the crucial role that government support plays in ensuring its success,”