“It is my understanding that the current Poultry Regulations that exist are outdated and no longer compliant with current international standards. There are also other private standards which are not mandatory under the Belize Poultry Improvement Plan (BPIP), and a draft Poultry Disease Regulations which was developed in consultation with stakeholders.”
Minister Jose Abelardo Mai, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Belize addresses stakeholders who came together to launch the strengthening Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) legislative framework component of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Project on December 6 at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Belmopan, Belize.
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Developing poultry disease regulations
Implemented by IICA with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), a task force comprising public and private actors has been established to assist the project consultant in developing poultry disease regulations and to provide guidance on the way forward with the draft aquatic regulations.
Funded under the regional 11th EDF European Union programme in the Caribbean which has a total commitment of €326 million allocated over the last seven years to promote the implementation of the EU-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), regional integration and private sector development.
Minister Mai said, “The Newcastle Disease outbreak in November 2008 and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza of 2015 triggered the development of the Draft Poultry Disease Regulations, having realised the need for a more robust poultry disease surveillance, disease control and prevention measures, early diagnosis and rapid response, an emergency response plan and even perhaps a compensation plan for our poultry farmers.”
He continued, “I believe that it is important that an amalgamation of all these documents be quickly carried out and drafted with the support of the consultant which will benefit not only our commercial poultry sector but even owners of backyard poultry that depend on chicken meat and eggs as a daily source of protein. In 2020, the wholesale value of poultry was over BZE$104 million. As lucrative as this may sound, we have to realise the vulnerability of industries due to diseases. Without the enactment of such important poultry disease regulations, we have much to lose as our commercial and backyard poultry can easily experience the incursion of a poultry disease. These regulations will permit BAHA to take the necessary measures to control and eradicate any poultry disease. It will also demonstrate Belize’s compliance with international obligations and maintain transparency.”
Building trust among stakeholders
Belize as a member country of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) abides by the disease control standards of the OIE as set out in the Terrestrial Code, Aquatic Code and respective Manuals.
Minister Mai explained, “When these standards are included in country legislation it strengthens technical capacity of the Veterinary Services and builds trust among stakeholders and trading partners. Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) only Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures are to be considered in the trade of animal and animal products. When these measures are enforced by legal disposition, trading partners are assured that trade measures are not technical barriers but in accordance with the appropriate levels of protection of one’s country. The enabling structure will allow us to safeguard food security, animal health, public health and the environment; and apply to both commercial and backyard poultry.”
This component of the project aims to ensure that Belize will have regulations that facilitate the enforcement of SPS measures for improved production and trade of poultry, and that Belize will have recommendations on the enactment of the Aquatic Animal Health Bill or Regulation that will ultimately facilitate the implementation of SPS measures required for improved production, market access and trade.
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Providing more nutritious and safer food
Delivering remarks for the European Union Technical Support Office to Belize, Xavier Canton-Lamouse, Team Leader/Project Manager said, “The current project will comply with international standards in order to increase market opportunities not only with the EU market but also in the Caribbean Region and will further contribute to integrating the Caribbean market into the world economy by boosting the competitiveness of Belizean products. It will ultimately provide more nutritious food and safer food and will promote climate smart and environmentally friendly practices for the benefit of the citizens of Belize. I have no doubt that this new SPS project will further boost exports of food products to the vast European Union market which has offered a duty-free and quota free market to all CARIFORUM countries since 2008, generating export earnings for those countries. It will also allow Belize to further promote exports to other lucrative markets within the region and worldwide.”
In attendance at the launch were representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; the Ministry of Health and Wellness; the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development; Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA); Belize IICA Delegation; Belize Poultry Association, the Project Consultant – Iran Tillett-Dominguez; and members of the private sector.
Key project milestones:
- Final Regulations for the Belize Poultry Health Bill to be enacted in 2022
- Report on the review of the BAHA Act for enabling provision for enactment of the Aquatic Animal Health Bill
- Final Belize Aquatic Animal Health Bill enacted in 2022 or Draft Aquatic Animal Health Regulations
- Final Aquatic Animal Health Regulations to be enacted in 2022
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