CARIFORUM food exporters will benefit from some much needed assistance when the Caribbean Export Development Agency rolls out a €500,000 Special Assistance Programme funded under the 10th EDF programme of the European Union (EU), to help prepare them for existing and anticipated food safety regulations in key export markets.

The special programme, which will cover wide ranging national consultations and robust advocacy and sensitization drives, commenced with the launch of a two month pilot in Jamaica on the October 26, 2011.

This pilot is the first segment of a wider project which will seek to address the needs of companies throughout the Region in enhancing quality and standards to meet the export market requirements of the entire Region’s trading partners including the EU, Canada and other non-traditional markets.

The key objective behind the Special Assistance Programme is to equip affected producers with the right tools to respond to new legislative requirements. It will consist of technical workshops specifically aimed at raising the level of awareness and providing access to accurate information. Under this Programme, companies will also be able to access up to €5,000 which may be used to pay costs associated with carrying out needs assessments and conducting various diagnostic procedures which should lead them to better navigate what can be a very complex set of regulations for any company. Additionally, qualified firms wanting to access more than the Special Assistance Programme allows will be able to apply for up to an additional €30,000 under the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme.

Commenting on this initiative, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency said, “As an Agency charged with building the export capacity of CARIFORUM companies, we must take a leading role in ensuring that whenever regional exports are threatened or compromised we respond and respond quickly. We owe it to the security of regional enterprise that success is not sidelined by inertia or indecisiveness. Our companies must be able to respond at the same rate as their competitors.”

For more information on the Special Assistance Programme for CARIFORUM Food Producers kindly contact Samuel Kruiner ([email protected]) &/or Kirk Brown ([email protected]); Tel: (246) 436 0578; Fax (246) 436 9999.