Maintaining certification of its Laboratory for quality Rice on the local and Int’l Markets

Rice is a staple in Guyanese diet and accounts for a large percentage of Guyana’s annual exports, thus making the commodity a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). To ensure the industry’s continued success, quality and accuracy is of utmost importance.

Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha (center left) received a plaque on behalf of the GRDB from Executive Director (Ag) Ms. Ramrattie Karan on October 12, 2021. Also in photo (L-R) Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture Ms. Delma Nedd, General Manager (Ag.) of the GRDB Mr. Kudlip Ragnauth and Director General at the Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Madanlall Ramraj.

The rice industry is regulated by the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) which is responsible for grading and certifying all varieties of rice that are exported or sold on the local market. To ensure quality through reliable testing, the GRDB Central Laboratory was among the first testing laboratories to pursue certification by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS).

Quality Manager at GRDB, Ms. Marsha Hohenkirk.

“With the responsibility of the organization, the laboratory continues to see it fit to have the certification status…we want to assure our clients, who are the millers, the exporters and to some extent our farmers that results produced by the laboratory are accurate, reliable and consistent; and that the services that we provide are of quality…” Quality Manager at the Rice Laboratory, Marsha Hohenkirk said.

The GRDB Laboratory is certified to the National Standard “GYS 170:2009 General requirements for the operation of a laboratory” and the scope of the certification includes the analysis of rice and paddy and the certification of rice and its byproducts.

An employee of the GRDB testing the Moisture content of rice samples submitted to the laboratory.

According to Ms. Hohenkirk, the process of attaining certification was not an easy ride but the result is worth it. She lauded the support received from the Guyana National Bureau of Standards [GNBS] which, through consultation and collaboration, provided the necessary information on understanding the requirements of the standard, developing manuals and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and implementing those processes.

Over the years of its certification, the GNBS conducted several audits of the GRDB Laboratory to ensure it continues to conform to the requirements of the Standard.

“Once we have an established quality management system, there are procedures to be followed and those procedures and those policies form part of our day-to-day activities. What the certification did for us also is, it set a benchmark of performance for our laboratory personnel which they have to maintain,” the Quality Manager outlined.

She added that the consistency developed by employees of the laboratory allowed them to maintain the quality of services offered to stakeholders, which has kept stakeholder confidence in the results provided high.

An employee of the GRDB weighing the rice sample submitted to the laboratory for testing.

Additionally, in 2015 the GNBS Certification paved the way for the GRDB laboratory to achieve international accreditation to the ISO 17025 – General Requirements for the Competence of testing and calibration laboratories. However, the laboratory continues to maintain its local certification, and in fact, was recertified for another two years in October 2021. A plaque was provided to the Laboratory for its continued commitment to standards and quality through certification.

Finally, Ms. Hohenkirk urged other companies and organisations with testing laboratories to pursue certification of their labs. She noted, “Certification attracts recognition and recognition creates demand for your services in this competitive business environment.”