With advances in technology comes the evolvement of a dynamic and changing marketplace. For Jamaica to successfully compete in the global market it has to efficiently produce quality products (goods and services) at international standards. Producing quality products is a necessary ingredient for global competitiveness and economic growth. The Scientific Research Council (SRC) in its quest for excellence and international recognition is engaged in developing Quality Systems. This involves an integrated network of processes guided by policies and procedures that influence the quality of its products. Most successful quality systems are guided by best practices for achieving the desired level of quality for any process. The SRC’s current activities to develop a certifiable quality management system (QMS) that meets the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard, and to have its laboratories accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard, are indicative of its commitment to producing quality products and to establishing confidence in the conformance of products to specified requirements.

The SRC is currently focusing on stimulating growth in the agricultural sector that will act as a catalyst for growth in other sectors such as manufacturing. One of the results of its research and developmental activities is the creation of value-added products from local agricultural crops. These activities provide socio-economic benefits to our nation in areas such as income generation and employment creation. The SRC is cognizant of the fact that economic growth is multidimensional and is involved in activities aimed at supporting the sustainability of local industries.

The SRC’s Food Technology Institute (FTI) was developed to facilitate the development and growth of the agro-processing industry. Numerous formulations and technology packages are available at the SRC. A number of new food products have been developed from local raw materials for commercialization and subsequent divestment to the private sector. The production of value-added products has stimulated demand for agricultural crops, thereby increasing market size for agro-products and creating farming opportunities.

- SRC has developed numerous products from local crops e.g. flour from yam and breadfruit and chips from banana, potato, plantain and breadfruit. It has also developed numerous condiments, preservatives, liqueurs, jams & jellies.

SORREL - SRC assisted in the development of a local sorrel industry, which has created benefits to farmers of sorrel and other agricultural materials (sugar, ginger, mango, guava, spices), and service providers such as labourers, truckers, processors, packers and distributors. The SRC successfully developed a suite of sorrel products under the ‘Hope Gardens Jamaica’ label, namely: Hope Gardens Jamaica Sorrel Squash, Guava Sorrel Squash, Mango Sorrel Squash, Sorrel Chutney – spicy and original flavours, sorrel liqueur, sorrel topping and two sorrel sauces. These sorrel products are available for divestment to entrepreneurs.

PEA SOUPS – The SRC in 2003 released four new, traditional Jamaican, soups: gungo peas with meat and gungo peas without meat, red peas with meat and red peas without meat. These products were sold to the Jamaican Agro-Processors Association (JAPA). The SRC will provide training and assistance to JAPA to facilitate quality and standards. Other soup products are being developed.

A vegetable patty is market ready and several other formulations are available for starting new businesses.
Training - SRC has provided training and technical assistance to numerous individuals, community groups and institutions/organizations in various aspects of food processing e.g. Solar drying, Juice Making and Meat Processing.

MUSHROOM PRODUCTS – jam, soup mix, mushroom-flavoured cake mix and pickle were developed by the SRC. The SRC provided technical assistance and mushroom spawn to farmers, facilitating the commercial production and sale of local mushroom. It successfully established a composting system, using mushroom and other organic waste generated by the SRC. Compost is now being produced and sold and the technology is ready for transfer.

The Tissue Culture Unit engages in activities aimed at increasing the competitive position of the Jamaican agro-industrial sector through the production of high quality disease free planting materials, and the development and selection of improved cultivars. These plantlets can be had in flexible order quantities. Research work is being conducted on the propagation of fruit trees and root crops; e.g. peach, ackee, coffee, ginger and dasheen.

NATURAL PRODUCTS - Emphasis is placed on the development of value added products and a nutraceutical industry. Work is also being done to support the local essential oils industry. Evaluation and quality control of the active ingredients in products such as ginger and citrus, peppermint and lemongrass as sources of nutraceuticals and functional foods are also done by the SRC.

ANALYTICAL SERVICES – Tests conducted by laboratories at the SRC can assist manufacturers (especially those involved in food processing) to deliver quality products. Some of these tests aid in determining bacteria levels and the presence of contaminants that can adversely affect the product, resulting in spoilage and reduced shelf life. Information on the nutritional and mineral content of food is also available at the SRC.

The SRC can assist wastewater producers to manage their waste. This includes treating wastewater to facilitate its reuse for irrigation, as a fertilizer, or for its return to water bodies without causing harm to the environment. The WRMTC also uses anaerobic technology to produce biogas from waste. Manufacturers can reduce energy and other related costs by utilizing this service.

The SRC looks forward to greater collaboration with entities such as the Jamaica Manufacturers Association and takes this opportunity to encourage entrepreneurs, government, financial agencies and NGOs to collaborate and utilize the technologies available at the Scientific Research Council and other agencies to reinvigorate the economy. The expertise to transfer these technologies is available and the time is opportune for redevelopment of old industries and creation of new ones.
Let us seize the day!

Copyright 2003, The Scientific Research Council (Jamaica)