With domestic food security continuing to be a matter of the highest national priority, the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) says that the protection of the country’s agricultural sector from the introduction of imported pests and diseases continues to the focus of the National Plant Protection Organization. (NPPO)
Information made available to this newspaper indicates that the NPPO is aggressively supported by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) in ensuring that importers comply fully with the national regulations pertaining to the importation of plants including the completion of relevant and supporting documents that enable verification of the safety and wholesomeness of imports.
NAREI says that a key element of the import procedure pertains to ensuring the documents are tendered and scrupulously examined by the NPPO prior to importation of commodities. Import inspections, according to the Institute are carried out by the NPPO with the specific objective of verifying the conformity of the imports with local phytosanitary requirements in order to prevent the entry and spread of pests.
Information made available to this newspaper indicates that between January and September this year the NPPO issued 370 permits for the importation of food crops and vegetation including potatoes, onions, garlic, wheat and cut-flowers. NAREI says that that the safe importation of these items requires an understanding of each other’s operations and an understanding of the laws governing the importation of these items. “Guyana’s National Plant Protection Organization’s role is to facilitate trade and increase our competitiveness for trade on the world market as well as protect Guyana’s agriculture from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases, NAREI says, adding that these pursuits are supported by the Guyana Revenue Authority through its insistence that the relevant procedures are adhered to. NAREI says that import applications must also be accompanied by the Import Permits and Phytosanitary Certificate (PSC) and invoice documents.
Numbered amongst the concerns associated with the importation of agricultural produce into Guyana are the discovery of exotic pests and diseases and the presence of soil particles and debris on commodities.
An import permit has a lifespan of three to six months, depending on the commodity and one set of documents can be used to import more than one commodity within that period.
The laws of Guyana, in particular the Plant Protection Act, 9 of 2011 states under Part 111, Section 8 (1) (a) Consignments shall be imported into Guyana only by the issue of an import permit granted by the Institute upon application by an importer in the prescribed form. This act also spells out consequences of not obtaining an import permit.
NAREI says that up until now Guyana has not imposed any trade restrictions on another country in order to prevent pest risks; however, Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) plays an important part in determining whether or not Guyana grants import permission for particular commodities from specific countries. Pest Risk Analysis is the process of evaluating biological or other scientific evidence to determine whether an organism is a pest, whether it should be regulated, and the strength of any phytosanitary measures to be taken against it. Importers under the Act are required to register NAREI.