The Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are set to work together in areas including food safety.

The two parties signed an agreement in Vienna, Austria last month to cooperate in the use of nuclear science and technology for sustainable agricultural health and food safety in the Caribbean.

It provides the framework for collaboration to address challenges faced by the member states of both organisations as well as small island developing states in improving the agricultural sector.

The IAEA assists countries to ensure the safety and quality of food and agricultural commodities and help international trade.

Chief executive officer of CAHFSA, L. Simeon Collins, and Cornel Feruta, chief coordinator for the director general office for coordination, representing Dazhu Yang, deputy director general at IAEA, signed the agreement.

CAHFSA includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Suriname, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Factors contributing to potential hazards in food include improper agricultural practices, poor hygiene and lack of preventive controls along the supply chain as well as chemical misuse, contaminated water supplies and tainted raw and waste materials, according to CAHFSA.

Export markets including the European Union and North America are demanding that the safety and quality of food products sent to them be at least equivalent to those produced in their regions.

The agency said the lack of, or inadequacy, as well as non-enforcement of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures have posed problems for all countries, but especially those from the poorer developing regions such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

CAHFSA and IAEA will collaborate on capacity building initiatives and establish a networking platform for laboratories in the Caribbean related to agricultural health and food safety.

They will also exchange and disseminate information, including publications and share experiences and best practices in animal and plant health as well as food safety.

The agencies will share information on planned events, organised by CAHFSA or IAEA, in animal or plant health and food safety and raise awareness about the work of IAEA.

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