Grenada PM lauds joint UWI – regional rum industry initiative

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Keith Mitchell has lauded the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between The University of the West Indies Open Campus and the regional rum industry grouping – the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA).

Speaking last week at the signing of the MoU in Grenada, Dr Mitchell said the initiative, which will see as its first task the development of an online training initiative for the industry, was a great example of the university applying itself to the needs of the productive sector, one in which the Caribbean possessed a wealth of expertise and heritage.

The MoU was signed during a reception to welcome members of the industry to Grenada for WIRSPA’s annual technical meeting, held from July 9 -11 2019. The meeting saw over 35 persons from many of the grouping’s large and small distilleries discussing key issues including responsible drinking, production and quality standards, product labeling, environmental management, and raw material supplies.

Dr Mitchell also commended recent efforts on the part of the industry to intensify its support for tackling problem drinking and in particular, the recent announcement to upgrade product labeling in domestic CARICOM markets and its self-regulation code.

Commenting on the signature of the MoU, professor Julie Meeks Gardner, acting principal of the UWI Open Campus, said, “The UWI Open Campus is delighted to forge an alliance with WIRSPA that is mutually beneficial to both regional entities. As part of the leading University in the Caribbean, The UWI Open Campus is well placed to contribute to building the knowledge base in the rum and spirits industry, which has been a vital component of the region’s cultural and economic landscape for centuries.”

According to the chairman of WIRSPA and head of the Guyana conglomerate, Demerara Distillers, Komal Samaroo, “the MoU will provide a framework for cooperation between the regional rum industry and, The UWI.

Our first planned collaboration is expected to be an online certification offering in rum and spirits production which would be offered to our members and more widely internationally, in several languages.” He added, “this is a unique offering in education and training, coming as it does from the home of rum, the Caribbean.”

Chairman of Grenada Distillers, Leroy Neckles, speaking on behalf of the local rum industry welcomed the grouping to Grenada, said, “we in Grenada are proud to host our first meeting of regional rum producers. Grenada has a tremendous rum and sugarcane heritage which is second to none.  We hope to share this unique history with our colleagues from the rest of the Caribbean”.

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