Dr. Simone Titus
In August 2010, Dr. Simone Titus was appointed as the Animal Health Expert for the Caribbean Region. Dr. Titus is implementing a one-year project entitled the Caribbean Regional Trade Initiative.
Ministers of Agriculture of Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) voiced concerns regarding food security, food production, and trade in animals and animal products. (CARICOM countries are identified by the black arrowhead in the figure below.) In an effort to address these concerns, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was asked to undertake cooperative activities with CARICOM to prevent the introduction of, mitigate the effect of, and respond to disease-producing agents in both domestic and imported animals and products of animal origin.
The goal of the Caribbean Regional Trade Initiative is to facilitate and increase trade in animals and animal products both among CARICOM Member States and other countries. Currently, the import and export of animals and animal products are controlled by individual countries. An initial task for this project is to gather information from government entities within each country concerning animal population health data, current import/export requirements, and trade policies in order to determine the state of affairs that currently exists. This information will be incorporated into a web page “database” that will be accessible to producers, importers, and exporters within CARICOM member states. Not only will interested parties be able to identify potential sources of a particular commodity within the region but also see the applicable import/export requirements. From that start, commodity-specific risk analyses will be performed to provide information to assess trade flows and identify potential trading blocks. Dr. Titus will communicate these results with CARICOM and its members.
An additional priority of the initiative includes providing training for government veterinarians to develop a core group of knowledgeable individuals. Dr. Titus will lead a three-day training course on the principles of risk analysis and its application in trade to government veterinarians of CARICOM Member States and Associate Member States . Course participants will leave with an electronic “cook book”, which will guide them through the process of creating a commodity-based risk assessment. As part of her duties, Dr. Titus is to create the database and electronic “cook book” to provide tangible end products of this initiative and reference materials for the future.
The concept of the Caribbean Regional Trade Initiative is very ambitious. Implementation is a large task for one individual within the limited time frame. Even though the initiative is addressing an important need within CARICOM Member States, it is challenging to bring together many countries and entities within countries that have different needs and priorities. With an ultimate end result of strengthening the technical capacity of regional animal health organizations and improving the safety of the domestic, imported and exported food supply, there is hope that the initiative can be extended beyond the initial one year.