News Release

Saint Kitts and Nevis to Strengthen Food Security and Export Development through New GC-MS Equipment with Support from CDB and EU

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Saint Kitts and Nevis to Strengthen Food Security and Export Development through New GC-MS Equipment with Support from CDB and EU

Over the last few years, crises such as devastating hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have impacted supply chains resulting in interruptions to the availability of healthy and fresh food for the people of the Caribbean. St. Kitts and Nevis is no exception. Improving the country’s quality infrastructure to increase food security is a key priority for the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), the national authority responsible for quality standards.  

In 2023, the Agency will procure state of the art equipment in the form of a Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) that will allow local and regional agro-processors to test the quality of their products and ensure safety for local consumption and export to global markets. The equipment will be provided under the “Strengthening the National Quality Infrastructure: Training and Equipment for Conformity Assessment” project. Bureau staff will also receive training to use the GC-MS and ultimately enhance their capacity to assess whether food products are free from contaminants and are authentic. The one-year initiative is supported by the European Union (EU) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building. 

“The GC-MS is an analytical method that combines the features of gas-chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample. Using this equipment, the Bureau will have the capability of testing the quality of products made by agro-processors and guarantee that their products meet globally recognized standards. It will also make certain that products meet contaminant residue requirements and be able to determine nutritional content,” explains Mr. Stuart LaPlace, Director of the St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards and Multipurpose Lab. 

Not only does the GC-MS instrument aid in food security, but by testing the quality of any product produced by agro-processors, St. Kitts and Nevis will also be able to increase export competitiveness and tap into markets such as the CSME, the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA). 

The equipment will also contribute to the expansion of trade facilitation for local exotics such as honey. Currently the country lacks mechanisms to identify if locally produced honey contains substances such as pesticides, which prevents acceptance by export markets. The use of the GC-MS instrument will be able to determine if there is an influx of pesticides present in the honey. The equipment will measure up to six decimal places what the residual limit would be for that product. The machine will determine whether it is within the acceptable limits or if it is a product that cannot be consumed and thus would not be fit for trading. 

This comes on the hinges of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis signing off on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which signals growing efforts to foster trade by aligning with the international community. A stronger national quality infrastructure implemented by the bureau will put critical checks and balances in place to help goods reach export markets quickly, effectively, and safely through the TFA, EPA and other trade agreements to which the Government is a signatory.  

Through the EPA, goods from Europe can be imported by St. Kitts and Nevis with an opportunity for the country to export to the EU. However, as the country currently lacks capacity to verify safety and quality of goods, it faces challenges to acceptance by European markets and fulfillment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement of having products that meet particular standards. These challenges will be addressed with the installation of the GC-MS machine by the SKNBS.  

About the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and CSME Standby Facility for Capacity Building 

The project was approved for implementation by the EPA and CSME Standby Facility Steering Committee in 2021. The EPA and CSME Standby Facility (also known as the CARIFORUM-European Union (EU) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) Standby Facility for Capacity Building) is a EUR 8.75 million programme financed by the European Union being managed by CDB to support projects in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago (CARIFORUM). It is intended to build capacity in the region and better position businesses to trade within CARIFORUM and the European Union.