St Vincent suspends importation of pesticides containing glyphosate

News Date: August 27 2018


The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced that it is suspending the importation of the weedicides Roundup, Touchdown and Glyphos and any chemical containing the active ingredient glyphosate.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate is a “probable” cause of cancer. Glyphosate is at the centre of an ongoing court case in the United States in which a former school grounds keeper has blamed Roundup for his cancer. 

The ban in SVG comes just under three years after the small Democratic Republic Party called on Kingstown to ban the importation and use of the chemical. The Ministry of Agriculture said that the suspension is based on the advice of the “Pesticides Board” and will continue, pending “a technical review”. “A preliminary review was conducted by the Pesticides Board which revealed that further research is needed regarding these listed chemicals. "In the interim, a special technical committee was established to advise on sustainable alternatives to the listed chemicals. This committee is expected to present its findings by October 1st, 2018,” the Ministry said in a statement. The statement said that the ministry has asked the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to conduct a full chemical analysis of these products. “The Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Saboto Caesar, has called on all stakeholders to be appreciative of the suspension on the importation of these chemicals in light of the nation’s quest to promote a safe working environment and good agricultural health and food safety practices,” the statement said.

In the campaign for the December 2015 general elections, DRP leader, former senator, Anesia Baptiste, said there were chemicals being sold and used in agriculture in SVG that have been proven to cause cancer, infertility and other health issues and should be banned. She also called for a ban of genetically, modified organisms and genetically engineered seeds in agriculture. She identified Roundup, Monsanto’s branded version of the herbicide glyphosate, and Touchdown Ultra, another brand of the chemical, and Malathion, which is used to spray mosquitoes as chemicals that should be banned in SVG.

In the statement announcing the suspension, the ministry said it will launch a national sensitisation programme with all stakeholders within the sector.” The statement said that the Department of Labour takes this opportunity to remind farmers and farm workers of the duty of care needed while using all chemicals. “All employers must provide protective gear and a safe working environment for employees in accordance with the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the statement said.

News Source: iWitness News

Aquaculture Gets Big Boost

News Date: January 31 2017


Fish-farming company Algix Jamaica is leading a resurgence of aquaculture in Jamaica and is exploring a plan to get most of the more than 2,000 acres of deserted fish ponds in Jamaica back in operation to expand its production capacity as it prepares to tap into the lucrative global fish market.

Algix is the first company to produce the basa (pangasius hypophthalmus) fish in Jamaica, which is bred along with the tilapia (red hybrid) in approximately 120 acres of water at its 300 acres Barton Isle, St Elizabeth, property.

About 60 per cent of the ponds are dominated by tilapia production, with about 50,000 to 70,000 kilograms produced for the domestic market monthly. However, this is expected to be reversed as soon as Algix begins to export its new product, which, at full production, should realise about 150,000 kilograms monthly in the short term.

According to Raldane Reynolds, procurement and logistics manager at Algix, the company is targeting the Indian, Brazilian, European, and North American markets and will be contracting fish farmers to increase their production.

"We have set our sights on these markets. The potential is endless. the global fish market is big-money business," he said during his presentation at the launch of their new product recently. "Basa has become so popular. the last time we checked in 2013, it was the sixth most consumed fish on the planet.

"India alone imports 5,000 tonnes monthly, or US$13 million, of this product, and our neighbours, the United States, imports US$1 billion worth of basa annually," he continued. "The basa didn't just bring variety to our dinner tables, but also a new economic opportunity for our farmers."

Lower Production Costs

Added Reynolds: "The Pangasius has significantly lower production costs, requires no aeration whatsoever, and allows farmers to increase harvest yields by 5,000 per cent more (than the tilapia), to be precise, without having to dig additional ponds."

Reynolds continued: "With full government support, Jamaica stands to be the envy of the global basa industry. We have a product the entire world wants, and we will be the best at producing it."

The Reynolds family-led firm acquired Aquaculture Jamaica in 2014 and has so far pumped approximately US$300 million into its operations. Some 90 persons are currently employed there.

A native of Asia, the basa is one of the most consumed fish globally and was being imported to Jamaica for decades until Algix farm, led by managing director and aquaculturist Maurice Reynolds, decided to explore the possibility of breeding it locally.

During his address, state minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries JC Hutchinson challenged fish farmers to see aquaculture as big business.

"No longer can we see fish breeding as just a hobby. this is big business as is being demonstrated by Algix," he said.

News Source: J

UN agricultural agency says Caribbean can make hunger history

News Date: January 26 2017


PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic (CMC) — Head of the United Nations Food and Agricultural agency (FAO) José Graziano da Silva says Latin America and the Caribbean could become the first developing region to completely eradicate hunger, with continued and strengthened implementation of a regional food security plan.

“This region has all the necessary conditions to achieve this, starting with the great political commitment that sustains the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan,” the Director General said.

“The plan represents the crystallisation of governments’ political will to eradicate hunger before 2025 (five years ahead the target set in the Sustainable Development Goals).”

Approved by CELAC in 2015, the UN said the plan promotes comprehensive public policies to reduce poverty, improve rural conditions, adapt agriculture to climate change, end food waste and mitigate disaster risks.

A key element of the plan is that it not only focuses on addressing hunger but also obesity, which affects about 140 million people in the region, the UN said.

According to the FAO, the plan is also fully in line level global commitments, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The FAO head also underscored the threats posed by climate change, “which has the potential to reverse the gains made in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty in the region.

“Agriculture is the sector most affected by climate change and its main victims are small family farmers, men and women, many of whom struggle daily for their survival,” da Silva noted.

Together with CELAC, the UN said FAO is developing a plan of action for family agriculture and rural territorial development that promotes sustainable intensification of production, public procurement and food supply systems, rural services and greater opportunities for rural youth.

FAO has also supported the countries of the region to draw up a Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Management for Agriculture and Food Security, which promotes resilience and adaptation of farmers through sustainable farming techniques and resource management, according to the UN.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Haiti - Agriculture : Michigan State University supports South-West

News Date: January 26 2017


The East Lansing school announced this week that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) focused on producing beans for food and household income in Haiti. Researchers are working to have 6,000 Haitian farmers in the Southwest receive high yielding bean varieties.

The operation is called "Mwen Gen Pwa" (I Have Beans).

USAID contacted Michigan State University because of its expertise on beans adapted to Central America and the Caribbean. The East Lansing school has also been approached for its long-term work with the Haitian National Seed Service (SNS) and the distribution of bean seeds.

Michigan State University will use a federal grant of approximately $2 million to help the South-West of Haiti to restore its agricultural production after the passage of Hurricane Matthew last October.

News Source: Haiti Libre

Processed foods drive surge in obesity rates in the Caribbean, says UN-backed report

News Date: January 20 2017


Countries should promote the sustainable production of fresh, safe and nutritious foods to counter overweight and obesity, which have greatly increased, especially among women and children, in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: FAO

NEW YORK, USA -- Obesity and overweight are on the rise throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, and are prevalent particularly among women and children, according to a new United Nations-backed report.

Nearly 360 million people, or 58 percent of the inhabitants of the region, are overweight with the highest rates observed in The Bahamas at 69 per cent, Mexico at 64 percent and Chile at 63 percent, according to a news release on the Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean report, compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“The alarming rates of overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean should act as a wake-up call to governments in the region to introduce policies that address all forms of hunger and malnutrition and to do this by linking food security, sustainability, agriculture, nutrition and health,” said FAO regional representative Eve Crowley.

The report said that overweight affects more than half the population of all countries in the region, except for Haiti at 38.5 per cent, Paraguay at 48.5 per cent and Nicaragua at 49.4 per cent.

The report also noted obesity affects 140 million people, or 23 percent of the region’s population, and that the highest rates are to be found in the Caribbean countries of Barbados at 36 percent, and Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda at around 31 percent each. 

The increase in obesity has disproportionately impacted women: in more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the rate of female obesity is 10 percentage points higher than that of men.

PAHO’s director Carissa F. Etienne explained: “The region faces a double burden of malnutrition. This needs to be tackled through balanced diets that include fresh, healthy, nutritious and sustainably produced food, as well as addressing the main social factors that determine malnutrition, such as lack of access to healthy food, water and sanitation, education and health services, and social protection programmes, among others.” 

Linking agriculture, food, nutrition and health

The FAO/PAHO report points out that one of the main factors contributing to the rise of obesity and overweight has been the change in dietary patterns. Economic growth, increased urbanization, higher average incomes and the integration of the region into international markets have reduced the consumption of traditional preparations and increased consumption of ultra-processed products, a problem that has had greater impact on areas and countries that are net food importers.

To address this situation, FAO and PAHO called for the promotion of healthy and sustainable food systems that link agriculture, food, nutrition and health.

News Source: Caribbean News Now

Jamaica Confident About Reviving Pork Exports To Caricom

News Date: January 18 2017


Jamaica's meat companies are weighing a resumption of pork exports to Caribbean neighbours, but say it all depends on the reception from government agencies throughout the region and the harmonisation of standards.

Pork exports from Jamaica to Caricom fell off around 15 years ago, industry sources say.

However, a recent "risk analysis done on Jamaica as to whether it is a suitable place from which pork and chicken can be exported to Caricom, is saying 'yes, all systems go', according to corporate affairs manager at Caribbean Broilers Group, Dr Keith Amiel.

Caribbean Broilers operates in the pork market through subsidiary, Copperwood.

The risk analysis done on Jamaica and a few of its neighbours, comes amid a larger push to identify suitable suppliers among Caribbean territories coming out of the recent scares in the poultry industry which lead to suspension of imports from North American territories.

In 2015, the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture issued a ban on all poultry and poultry products emanating from parts of the United States as well as other regions, arising from an outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu in that country.

"Because of the dangers of avian influenza and the supplies of chicken to different countries being cut off, they looked at where chicken could come from first within Caricom before anywhere else," Amiel said.

He added that the developments in poultry hold the advantages for pork producers. Additionally, industry sources say some Caricom markets are running short on pork, which Jamaica can help to fill.

The risk assessment was undertaken by the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety, an agency of Caricom.

Trinidad, Barbados, Guyana and Belize were also reviewed with the reports sent to the respective governmental agencies.

"For Jamaica, it says Jamaica has passed the test to be a suitable source of both chicken and pork for the rest of Caricom," Amiel said.

Each assessment will be presented to the Council of Trade and Economic Development (COTED), another arm of Caricom.

"When they endorse it, then the Caribbean would be free to import meats from Jamaica," Amiel said.

The intention is to have "pork in all its various forms - for example: ham, bacon, fresh pork" exported, said the agricultural specialist.

Caribbean Broilers also told Gleaner Business that efforts to restart pork exports were thwarted in the past because of the disparity in phytosanitary requirements across the region.

This is expected to change with the developing arrangements.

News Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Agriculture Ministry’s clean seed programme gets boost

News Date: January 12 2017


Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Agriculture JC Hutchinson (second right), listens as executive director, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Barton Clarke (third right) explains the purpose of a seed extractor, which was among equipment and supplies donated to the Ministry by CARDI. Also pictured (from left) are Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Donovan Stanberry; and Agricultural Attaché, Delegation of the European Union in Jamaica, Stefano Cilli. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government’s thrust to increase production of high-quality seeds for agricultural production has been boosted with the acquisition of equipment and supplies valued at more than J$2.5 million.

The items, which include a seed extractor, germination chamber, forceps and Petri dishes, will be used to bolster the Seed Production Facility of the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine.

They were handed over by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), during a ceremony at the Hope Gardens offices of the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, in St Andrew, on January 11.

Minister without Portfolio in the ministry, JC Hutchinson, said the donation will assist with the ministry’s clean seed programme, which provides disease-free planting material for farmers.

“The equipment will aid us on our mission to grow and expand the agricultural sector in Jamaica by boosting the seed-producing capacity at the Bodles Research Station,” he said.

Principal Research Director in the Research Development Division of the ministry, Dr Lisa Myers-Morgan, noted that over the years, the division has been facilitating the production of clean planting material, such as pepper, sorrel and pumpkin.

She suggested that this donation could go towards the development of a germ-plasm repository of seeds to supply not only Jamaica but the region as well.

“With further collaboration with CARDI and other stakeholders, it is expected that we will be able to have this facility available to have this repository of clean planting material that can ably support the development of our agricultural sector,” she said.

In the meantime, Agricultural Attaché, Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Stefano Cilli, informed that since April 2013, the EU, through the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP), has spent more than $1.2 billion to improve the management of plant genetic resources in the region.

“Our support is geared towards increasing the capabilities of regional agricultural development organisations to address the development needs of small producers. To this end, this action will contribute to improving the dissemination and the adoption of applied research and appropriate technologies,” he said.

He noted that this project demonstrates Jamaica’s recognition of the importance of plant genetic resources for agriculture, and the need to develop specific policies in order to exploit these resources and make wider use of them for the resilience of agricultural systems, particularly in the context of economic sustainability.

In his remarks, CARDI’s Executive Director Barton Clarke pledged the agency’s continued support to Jamaica’s agricultural sector.

The initiative was funded by the European Union under the APP of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).

The APP is being executed in the Caribbean by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in partnership with CARDI and the Caricom Secretariat.

Three areas are targeted: Policy (Caricom Secretariat); Technology, Research and Development (CARDI); and Agribusiness and Market Access (IICA).

The specific objective is to increase the capability of agricultural development organisations of the Caribbean and Pacific regions to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture, with smallholder producers being the main beneficiaries.

The seed facility currently produces hot pepper, pumpkin and sorrel seeds for sale to farmers.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism successfully implements sanitary controls project

News Date: January 06 2017


BELIZE CITY, Belize -- The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), in partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has successfully completed the project “Capacity Building of regulatory and industry stakeholders in Aquaculture and Fisheries Health and Food Safety to meet the SPS requirements of international trade”. 

The project, which started in September 2016, was funded under the EU’s 10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Project and delivered with the help of a team of consultants from Megapesca in Portugal. The aim was to continue to help CARIFORUM countries to improve the safety of fish and fishery products for consumers in national and export markets, and several activities 

The project prepared six new manuals to help fish inspectors apply the best international practices to the inspection of fishing vessels, processing establishments and aquaculture facilities. The subjects covered include HACCP, traceability, and for the first time, a compendium of food safety hazards encountered in Caribbean fishery products. 

In addition, the project has prepared two manuals for laboratories, on the testing of fishery products to make sure they are safe, and ensuring that laboratory test results are accurate. The manuals will be distributed by the CRFM and will soon be available online, not only in English, but in Spanish, French and Dutch language versions as well. 

The project also delivered two weeks of training, based on the manuals, and covering “Food safety in the fishery sector” and “Fishery products laboratory testing”, which were delivered to 30 inspectors and laboratory analysts from 15 CARIFORUM countries and the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency. 

The training took place in St Vincent and the Grenadines, during the period 28th November to 9th December 2016, conducted by four international experts in inspection, control and testing in the fishery sector. The training course covered food safety hazards, best international practices in fish inspection at each stage of the supply chain, controls in aquaculture, and traceability as well as modern approaches to laboratory testing and accreditation. 

Particular attention was paid to explaining the sanitary requirements for exporting fishery and aquaculture products to the EU and other developed country markets. Practical work helped the participants to understand the role of rapid and field testing to allow better decisions to be made about the safety of fishery products. 

At the end of the course the equipment used, such as water quality test kits and thermometers, was donated to the participants on behalf of their employing authority. 

All the training sessions were video recorded and uploaded to the CRFM site, and along with the manuals, these will provide a valuable and lasting training resource for the region.

As well as these two major outputs, the project has also helped the CRFM to develop a set of impact assessment indicators and a methodology, to provide an objective approach to the monitoring of progress in the strengthening of fishery sector sanitary controls. 

This suite of indicators is based both on published data and questionnaire surveys of competent authorities and testing laboratories, and the project benchmarked these to December 2016. The results provide a useful snapshot of the current status of the control systems in the region, and future replication of the study will provide a measure of progress made as the region’s governments move forward in building stronger sanitary control systems to improve public health and trade performance related to food in general, and fishery products in particular. 

An infographic, which provides an interactive map illustrating the nature and extent of fishery sector sanitary controls applied in the region was also developed and is also available via the CRFM website.

CRFM's project coordinator, Dr Susan Singh-Renton, deputy executive director of the CRFM Secretariat welcomed the successful completion of the project, saying, “Capacity to achieve international standards in safety of fishery products has been a major area of weakness impacting the full realization of economic benefits for fishing industries in CARIFORUM states, particularly the earnings from exports. In this regard, the project's contribution has been a crucial one, through development of two training courses and eight operational manuals suitable for use by food safety laboratory experts and fish product inspectors within the CARIFORUM region. Though the project has ended, the manuals, course video, and impact assessment tools will continue to be useful reference products for all industry stakeholders striving for the same goals in fisheries food safety.”

The fishery sector is important for many countries in the region, as a source of employment, and export revenues. Overall, in 2015, the CARIFORUM countries exported fish worth US$378 million to many countries around the world. Whilst 89% of this is from just five countries (Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) the fishery sector of many other countries in the region delivers supplies directly to their tourist sector. 

The continued economic importance of the fishery revenue therefore depends on making sure that fish meets international sanitary standards, and governments in the region are therefore very interested to ensure that regionally important food safety hazards such a ciguatera and histamine are under control. 

News Source: http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Caribbean-Regional-Fisheries-Mechanism-successfully-implements-sanitary-controls-project-33090.html

News Source: Caribbean News Now

Civil society ready to tackle climate change in 2017

News Date: January 05 2017


Port of Spain, January 5, 2017 – Five civil society organisations (CSOs) in Trinidad and Tobago are starting 2017 ready to tackle climate change through raising awareness, advocating for strong policies and action, and implementing practical adaptation projects guided by assessments of what are the key vulnerabilities and priorities for resilience building.

The five CSOs -  Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYENTT), Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC), Environment Tobago, Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), and Turtle Village Trust (TVT) – have been participating in the “Climate ACTT: Action by Civil society in Trinidad and Tobago to build resilience to climate change” project which aimed to build the capacity of five CSOs in Trinidad and Tobago to deliver programmes/projects related to climate change adaptation and resilience. Over the last 16 months, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) implemented and managed this project in collaboration with Conservation International and with support from BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago. 

The Climate ACTT project wrapped up in December 2016, with a final evaluation workshop to assess results of the project, facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among the beneficiary CSOs and catalyse partnerships and new initiatives for climate change adaptation and resilience in Trinidad and Tobago.

Overall the Climate ACTT project was found to be a resounding success at enhancing the capacity of the five CSOs to undertake climate adaptation work.  One participant in the final evaluation workshop acknowledged “the sense of something starting as opposed to something ending”. “This was the seed sown for the growth of the big tree” added another participant.  All five CSOs felt energised and ready to expand their work on climate change to help to address the impacts that are already being felt in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Each CSO had participated in training and implemented a practical adaptation project that laid a foundation for exciting avenues of work moving forward.  A few highlights were:

  • Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYEN-TT) will build the capacity of youth so that they are aware of the impacts of climate change and have a stronger voice to call for urgent action.
  • Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) will educate coastal residents in north-east Tobago about the impacts of climate change on their communities and what needs to be done to adapt.
  • Environment Tobago (ET) will conduct vulnerability assessments of coastal areas in south-east Tobago and collaborate with government, private sector and residents to identify what are the priority actions needed to build resilience to the impacts of climate change on these areas.
  • Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project (FACRP) will partner with universities to expand its research on what tree species are resilient to climate change and therefore best suited for ongoing reforestation in the western Northern Range in areas destroyed by annual fires.
  • Turtle Village Trust (TVT) will educate coastal communities in north-east Trinidad and Tobago about the impacts of climate change on sea turtles and coastal and marine ecosystems and what needs to be done to adapt.

At the evaluation workshop, the CSOs also engaged with invited partners from government, international agencies and private sector donors for a highly interactive round of group presentations and “speed dating” to discuss potential future areas of collaboration. Responses from the invited partners included “smitten” and “very proud”, and before leaving they urged the participating CSOs to be proactive in initiating their “second dates” to discuss specific opportunities for collaboration on climate adaptation initiatives moving forward.


About Climate ACTT: See here for more info on the Climate ACTT project: http://www.canari.org/climateactt

About CANARI: The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute is a regional technical non-profit organisation which has been working in the islands of the Caribbean for more than 25 years. Our mission is to promote equitable participation and effective collaboration in managing natural resources critical to development.  Our programmes focus on research, sharing and dissemination of lessons learned, capacity building and fostering regional partnerships.

Jamaican Company Displacing Chinese Imports In Trinidad, Eastern Caribbean

News Date: December 30 2016


Jamaican chemical company Ag-Chem is making good on its promise to displace Chinese imports of agricultural chemicals and fertilisers in the Trinidadian and Eastern Caribbean markets.

Ag-Chem was acquired by the Joe Pires-led Trinidadian outfit Caribbean Chemicals in January 2015, but full takeover and unveiling did not happen until July 2015.

General Manager Graham Dunkley says even while the takeover process trundled along, his company wasted no time in tapping into the lucrative Trinidad market, "It took a lot of work and considerable time but we have managed to be reasonably competitive to the Chinese imports," Dunkley told the Financial Gleaner, emphasising that Ag-Chem is not done as yet.

"In April, or thereabouts, we did our first exports to Trinidad and we've been consistently exporting products that we manufacture here in Jamaica to that market. We are completing registration now to enter the Guyana market, and we continue to watch what is happening in Suriname and see what possibilities there are," Dunkley said.

Exports above expectations

The general manager would not comment directly on the value or volume of exports, but said the new deals pushed the company to levels that were above expectations.

"Our exports to new markets helped move our overall exports to 6.1 per cent of sales, approximately 65 times the target," Dunkley said.

He said the company has managed to best the Chinese imports simply because it is closer to the market.

"One of the advantages we have is the time it takes for us to get an order and fill it in the receiving country. It addition, we can boast of consistent quality and reliability," Dunkley said.

He revealed that so far, Ag-Chem has been primarily concerned with the herbicide lines. Dunkley notes that they are now looking at insecticides and towards the third quarter of 2017, they should have a lot more to talk about.

Joe Pires had earlier vowed to break into the Trinidad market, citing the fact that the value of fertiliser imports stood at US$3.5 million.

Meanwhile, in the Jamaican market, the chemical company has had to adjust its strategy and shift the business model. Ag-Chem was formerly the farm chemicals division of the Lascelles deMercado Group, which was acquired by Italian firm Gruppo Campari in 2014. The spirits company wasted little time in making it clear that they would be hiving off all the divisions that were non-core business. Federated Pharmaceuticals and Ag-Chem were among those divested.

Dunkley is therefore pointing to the post-acquisition period as a time for adjustment and coming to grips with new realities.

"We consider 2015-2016 to be an abnormal year because of several factors. Ag-Chem took over operations in mid-July 2015 and immediately faced several challenges such as insufficient inventory, supply chain disruptions, a rapid decline in the Jamaican sugar cane sector, continuing effects of the drought of 2015, and severe fallout in the export market," he said.

Focus on small farmers

Ag-Chem was used to dealing with larger agricultural holdings and big sugar cane farmers. Dunkley said the new dispensation meant a different ball game when it came to getting their products out the door.

"We saw movement away from our larger Ag-Chem product sizes (200 litres and 20 litres) towards smaller sizes (3.8 litres and 1 litre) and this was consistent with our changed route to market, focussing on the small retail stores," he said.

In addition, the 15 agriculture and agro-business qualified representatives were mandated to pound the pavement and trudge the fields to spread the word about their products and effect technology transfer.

"Over the course of the last year, we have directly come into contact with about 7,000 farmers through training events, seminars, field visits, farm visits and the like. In order to transfer technology, you need to interact directly with farmers," Dunkley said.

He is still not giving hard numbers, but says despite the uncertainties of the post-acquisition period, the company "achieved 98 per cent of our sales targets and we closed the year profitably".

He says Ag-Chem has seen where they have made a difference in the lives and livelihood of the farmers that they have interacted with, citing real-life examples where they have intervened and saved the day.

Looking forward to the new year, Dunkley sees good prospects and growth possibilities.

"2017 is looking like a year of opportunity because there is room for growth in agriculture; in production and the productivity of the farmers, and that aligns with what we are about, because that gets us up in the mornings. We have every reason to be optimistic," he said.

News Source: The Gleaner

Tree-planting organization reaches milestone, sees solution to Haiti’s deforestation

News Date: December 29 2016


Eight years since starting an international tree-planting mission, the Trees That Feed Foundation (TFFF) recently planted their 100,000th tree in Haiti, and sees a hopeful light for the country’s agricultural future following the destructive Hurricane Matthew that wrecked most of the country’s southern region, which was also home to ample crops and trees.

The Illinois-based organization began its environmental commitment in Jamaica, then expanded that mission to Haiti and other smaller islands, and has been planting breadfruit trees and assisting farmers in the Caribbean with maintaining and growing their crops. But since the hurricane, the organization has been seeking solutions to assist Haitian farmers with the tools, rather than create dependency often suggested for the country, said a spokesman for the organization.

“Right now Haiti needs a little bit of everything,” said Mike McLaughlin, secretary treasurer of Trees That Feed Foundation. “People are sending clothes and shoes, and we think that’s good, but what we think is better is helping them help themselves and setting up their own businesses.”

Trees That Feed Foundation primarily plants breadfruit trees, but also plant trees that produce cashews, mangoes, ackee, and other highly consumed foods in a given country. But the primary focus is breadfruit, which is turned into flour to make porridges consumed by children at schools and orphanages in Haiti.

Allowing the locals to learn about the agriculture, the process, and planting have fed many Haitian school children and given farmers work oppurtiniies, said McLaughlin. He says they are able to feed people and create entrepreneurship, while also sustaining the pre-existing local businesses as well, which often suffers with constant aid without investment.

“When you keep giving, you interfere with the local business,” he said. “We don’t just plant trees — we give equipment, we create jobs, and educate people about the value of agriculture, and how to understand the world we live in.”

The organization’s overall goal is to plant one million trees, and it is trying to reach that by expanding TFFF into other islands in the region, specifically in Haiti where widespread deforestation due to charcoal dependency has left Haiti’s agricultural industry in a vulnerable stage. But even with the long road ahead, McLaughlin says he is seeing progress and long-term solutions with the growing awareness TFFF emphasizes with their partners.

“It’s happening already but we can’t declare victory yet — that’s why I go back to education because it’s one of the most important things, and once the government starts to realize it, they can help by taking a more organized approach,” he said.

Once trees such as breadfruit, instead of timber trees are planted, it will begin a reduction in tree cutting, and help locals see the necessity in protecting their environment.

Overall the mission of Trees That Feed Foundation is to ensure the preservation of trees, and build a desire to make the world invest more into the environment, rather than more popular ways of aid, said McLaughlin.

“I want people to understand the importance of agriculture, agroforestry, self sufficiency, and other better ways to help, instead of just sending old shoes,” he said. “There are better ways to do it and you shouldn’t have to do giveaways but you should be helping for the long term. We’re in a perfectly good position and we hope to keep it that way.”

News Source: Caribbean Life

CANARI Welcomes New Staff!

News Date: December 21 2016


Port of Spain, December 12, 2016 - CANARI is pleased to announce the addition of four new members of staff; Nicole Brown, Akosua Dardaine Edwards, Natalie Boodram and Dara-Marie Raggay. Nicole and Akosua will be resuming their long-standing relationships with CANARI in their new roles as adjunct Senior Technical Officers, while Natalie and Dara-Marie will be joining us as Senior Technical Officer and Junior Technical Officer respectively.

We look forward to working with Nicole, Akosua, Natalie and Dara-Marie in their new appointments and are confident that they will be major contributors to our future success. Thank you for joining us in welcoming them to our team!

Nicole A. Brown, Adjunct Senior Technical Officer

Nicole has had a long-standing relationship with CANARI. In her current role of Adjunct Senior Technical Officer, she contributes to CANARI’s programme delivery in the areas of biodiversity conservation, monitoring and evaluation, and participatory planning for natural resource management.

Akosua Dardaine Edwards, Adjunct Senior Technical Officer

Akosua has been working with CANARI to develop its Rural Livelihoods programme since 2014, and through CANARI’s Green Economy programme, continues to transform Caribbean economies through the use of small and micro enterprises. 

Natalie Boodram, Senior Technical Officer

Forests and rivers give Natalie great joy, thus she is happy to be responsible for the Forests, Livelihoods and Governance programme at CANARI, helping stakeholders protect and manage these critical natural resources.

Dara-Marie A. Raggay, Junior Technical Officer

Dara-Marie provides research and administrative support across multiple programme areas and looks forward to partnering with natural resource users to develop and implement creative, equitable and sustainable solutions.

About CANARI: The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute is a regional technical non-profit organisation which has been working in the islands of the Caribbean for more than 20 years. Our mission is to promote equitable participation and effective collaboration in managing natural resources critical to development.  Our programmes focus on research, sharing and dissemination of lessons learned, capacity building and fostering regional partnerships.

SRC to produce more disease-free planting material

News Date: December 21 2016


Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC),  Dr Cliff Riley (right) and Acting Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Representative in Jamaica, Dionne Clarke-Harris, discuss the process involved in producing disease-free plantlets in the SRC’s Biotechnology (Plant Tissue Culture) Unit. 

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — A new $500,000 water-filtration system is expected to enhance the Scientific Research Council’s (SRC) capacity to produce more disease-free planting material for selected food crops.

The system, which was provided by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) was handed over during a ceremony at the SRC’s Hope Gardens location in St Andrew yesterday.

It will be used in the SRC’s Biotechnology (Plant Tissue Culture) Unit to produce a higher volume of clean planting material, especially for root and tuber crops such as sweet potato, cassava, yam and dasheen.

Welcoming the donation, Executive Director of the SRC, Dr Cliff Riley, said the system “will impact positively on our reach and span of our tissue culture plant access, which was a limiting factor”.

“Having enough water to produce 18,000 plants per week is significant. We have orders sometimes, where one entity may want about 100,000 clusters, which is about 300,000 plants, so if you can’t provide that water in a timely manner, you have challenges,” he said.

Most importantly, Riley said the new equipment will save the SRC money, noting that the agency has been purchasing water for more than a year, costing up to $200,000 per month.

He added that the Council also appreciates the partnership with CARDI which he said “concretises the efforts of our local scientists, and it completely highlights the commitment of our scientists, as well, in solving our problems”.

Explaining the impact of the new equipment, Research Scientist, Ryan Francis, told JIS News that it will “help us to produce large quantities of plants inside our labs because it produces water that is of good quality that we can use to grow our plants”.

“In the lab, we produce plants in jars and these plants are multiplied over a period so that we can reach the quantities that the small farmer is expecting for purchase,” he further explained.

In her remarks, Acting CARDI Representative in Jamaica, Dionne Clarke-Harris, said the equipment is expected to significantly increase the SRC’s production of plantlets, which is fundamental to increasing farmers’ crop productivity overall.

“We look forward to this expanded capacity having a significant impact on farmer access to high-quality planting material in the short term,” she said.

CARDI acquired the equipment under the European Union-funded Agricultural Policy Programme (APP). The APP is funded under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) and is being executed in the Caribbean by Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in partnership with CARDI and the CARICOM Secretariat. 

The programme targets three areas: Policy (CARICOM Secretariat); Technology, Research and Development (CARDI); and Agribusiness and Market Access (IICA).

The specific objective is to increase the capability of agricultural development organisations of the Caribbean and Pacific regions to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture, with smallholder producers being the main beneficiaries.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Commentary: Cuba, a model of sustainable agriculture towards global food security

News Date: December 14 2016


By Debora Iozzi
Research Associates at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the tightening of the US embargo, the early 1990s saw Cuba facing a severe food crisis and a collapse of more than 30 percent of the island’s GDP. In order to tackle this grave moment, in which Havana’s government was unable to deliver adequate food supplies to the population, Cubans were forced to develop a new method of farming: urban agriculture, hopefully a sustainable way of land exploitation and food production. 

Even though it was not the result of a deliberate government policy, but rather an unfortunate consequence of helpless events, the results of this new system led Cuban authorities to adopt specific measures to incentivize its expansion. This effort rendered the island a world leader in sustainable agriculture and its food production system became a model for other countries in the world to follow, especially developing societies that should be guarded against any damaging transformations.

A Model of Sustainable Agriculture Born out of Necessity

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba faced a grave shortage of oil supplies, which cut it off from cheap imports. The island was plunged into what was called the “Special Period in Peacetime”, further hardened by the relentless US embargo. Indeed, in 1996 the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act – also known as the Helms-Burton Act – strengthened the already existing embargo against the island, applying sanctions extraterritorially to foreign firms trading with Cuba. 

The lack of fuel, fertilizers, and other farm inputs decreased agricultural productivity. According to statistical data, the per capita food production annual average growth was negative, by -5.1 percent, between 1986 and 1995. Farmers had to switch to predominantly oxen traction because of fuel scarcity. Oil shortages also forced producers to move closer to consumers since fossil fuel-powered transportation was limited. 

City dwellers were the first hit by supply shortfalls, and, in order to effectively respond to the food crisis, they started to occupy unproductive state lands to produce their own food. Additionally, ordinary citizens used balconies, backyards, and roof terraces for cultivation and raising livestock. Furthermore, rural farmers, out of necessity, adopted agro-ecological methods due to the lack of oil-based pesticides and fertilizers. 

Without having it as a main goal, they started to practice sustainable farming as a way of food production in order to guarantee nutritious and accessible food for everyone while natural resources are managed in a way that maintain ecosystem functions to support current as well as future human needs. This includes a full participation of farmers, pastoralists, and other rural dwellers who might benefit from the economic development. 

Sustainable agriculture includes promoting urban farming, which improves food security and favors equitable access to resources, managed in the most efficient way. The Cuban government understood the potential of this spontaneous citizens’ initiative. The government soon started supporting and encouraging urban agriculture through a number of measures, which entailed the revision of property rights, a significant change for the socialist system. 

Cuba went through a drastic revision of the work paradigm: it shifted towards a decentralized production model and an acceptance by farmers that they obtained benefits from their own labor. The possibility of gaining from their efforts functioned as a major incentive for workers who had a greater interest in maximizing their production. 

The reorganization of agricultural production consisted mainly in converting the large state farms into smaller, more efficient, cooperative farms and distributing land in usufruct to small producers. Farmers had the right to enjoy the use of the soil and take advantage of its products, without necessarily owning the land. 

The aim of the Cuban leadership was to improve agricultural production and cut, if not eliminate, food imports into the country. For this reason, it supported the creation of the Department for Urban Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture in 1994 and of the National Group for Urban and Sub-urban Agriculture (GNAU) in 1998. The GNAU coordinates and promotes the development of sustainable urban agriculture in Cuba and was charged with encouraging the recycling of nutrients and wastes. It frames guidelines with agro ecological principles and directives for individual production of compost and seeds, local use of resources, and organic plant protection for Cuban producers.

Later in 2008, the newly installed government of Raul Castro adopted Law Decree 259, a land reform targeted at the distribution in usufruct of unproductive parcels. In 2011, Lineamientos, a reform package aimed at modernizing the Cuban economy placed a large emphasis on agricultural production. In 2012, Law Decree 300 provided for the construction of buildings on the usufruct land, and the planting of forests and fruit trees.

The government, moreover, started to work on creating additional commercial possibilities for farmers, providing training and access to agricultural inputs. The promotion of Cuban agriculture had become so important that domestic food production was declared a national security issue.

For full story: Caribbean News Now

News Source: Caribbean News Now

IAEA Hosts Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Experts on Fight against Screwworm Pest

News Date: December 12 2016


Vienna, Austria -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is hosting an expert meeting this week to discuss stepping up efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean to combat the New World Screwworm, a flesh-eating insect pest that remains a threat to livestock despite a successful campaign since the 1970s to suppress it with a nuclear technique in some countries.

Eleven countries are attending the 12-16 December meeting, which has been organized in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The experts will take stock of a project using the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) – a type of insect birth control – to control the screwworm and discuss whether to extend and expand it. The countries taking part in the current three-year project are: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Cuba – where the New World Screwworm is present – will also participate in the meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, as will the United States, which has seen a recent outbreak in the state of Florida.

The New World Screwworm is dangerous to warm-blooded animals. Female flies lay eggs in animal wounds and soft tissues, such as the nose, and its larvae burrows through the flesh, leading to infections and a potentially fatal disease called myiasis. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) classifies myiasis as a transmissible disease of socioeconomic and public health importance.

“The New World Screwworm was once widespread in the Western Hemisphere. But it was eradicated from the United States, Mexico and Central America thanks to a campaign that started in the 1970s using an integrated pest control approach with the SIT,” said Walther Enkerlin, entomologist at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. “But it remains present in other countries in the Caribbean and South America. Continued efforts are needed to protect the current screwworm-free areas and to start pest control in other interested Member States.”

The SIT uses radiation to sterilize male insects, which are then released in large numbers to mate with wild females. As they do not produce any offspring, populations decrease over time. SIT offers an environmentally friendly, long-term solution to help countries fight insect pests which are causing health problems and economic damage. 

Prior to its eradication in some countries, the economic losses caused by New World Screwworm were estimated at over $1.5 billion per year in the region.  A permanent barrier of sterile insects, supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, is maintained over eastern Panama to protect screwworm-free areas. However, it is found in most of South America and in five Caribbean countries.

“The recent New World Screwworm outbreak in the Florida Keys has shown the urgent need to strengthen the surveillance systems and emergency response capacities and eliminate the pest from other areas,” Enkerlin said.

A recent FAO/IAEA-commissioned economic assessment showed that the New World Screwworm had a negative impact on meat and milk production in Cuba and also led to environmental damage due to extensive use of pesticides to suppress the pest. 

News Source: The Bahamas Weekly

Call for regional approach to promote sustainable agricultural development in the Caribbean

News Date: December 11 2016


WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, CMC – Delegates attending a major agricultural conference here have called for a regional approach in promoting sustainable agricultural development and trade in the Caribbean.

On Saturday, the Washington-based Institute for Caribbean Studies (ICS) said policy makers, business leaders, academic and agricultural experts from across the Caribbean and the United States “walked away with positive action items and plans for agricultural sector development” following the two-day, high level “Invest Caribbean Agribusiness Forum (ICAF)” on Capitol Hill.

“The event went beyond the usual ‘talk shop to formulate strategies and plans for actions to turn idle hands and idle lands into real, profitable and sustainable opportunities for the Caribbean,” said Jamaican-born Dr. Clare Nelson, ICS president, who co-sponsored the event.

“The forum took note of the fact that agricultural capacity in the Caribbean is a ‘nature given asset,’ which remains relatively underdeveloped, but which holds the key to solve much of the Caribbean’s economic and social woes,” she added.

“That is closing food and job deficits, meeting economic inclusion goals and creating opportunities for sustainable self-sufficiency, which will become more relevant in the approaching era of reduced migration opportunities.

“The participants further molded a vision of the future of agriculture that goes beyond traditional small farmers growing peppers and coffee and cocoa and sugar for export to the notion of creating efficient value chains that benefit from current and future agriculture production market needs and opportunities,” Nelson continued. “Representatives of industry associations from the US signaled the fact that the markets are in need of prescribed quality production of everything the Caribbean can grow.”

She said the 18th Annual Caribbean American Leadership Roundtable Forum – sponsored by ICS, in partnership with the Office of Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clark, and the Office of the Executive Director for the Caribbean at the Inter-American Development Bank – was “intentional about the goal of forging real actionable measures for agriculture development in the Caribbean, job creation, energy and environment, new market opportunities and financing innovation.”

Representatives from the Caribbean included Caribbean ambassadors; CARDI; GoInvest (of Guyana); JAMPRO (of Jamaica); and other major food production organization and entities doing innovative business in the Caribbean.

In addition to high level attendance of members of the US Congress – Clarke and her congressional colleagues, Stacey Plaskett and Maxine Waters – Nelson said there were senior level representatives of US government agencies, such as US Trade Representative Office, US Department of State and US Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture and food production is a most promising economic frontier for boosting Caribbean economies, harnessing wealth, creating sustainable jobs, improving the environment and more,” said Oscar Spencer, ICS vice president during opening remarks on Thursday.

Nelson said industry speakers at the forum highlighted the potential realization of billions of dollars in economic growth and job creation via agriculture future-focused beyond traditional food exports to fiber and textiles, essential oils and natural products, biofuels, organic produce markets domestically and globally, agro-forestry, building products and materials (houses and furniture), among others.

She said delegates addressed the challenge of finding investment partners to activate overlooked opportunities throughout the Caribbean, and implement projects that re-engage people in agriculture, align more closely with US and other export markets, increase agro-processing, and promote the products of the Caribbean as select brands.

News Source: Antigua Observer

New variety of banana to be introduced to Dominica

News Date: December 08 2016


A new variety of banana will soon be introduced to Dominica. That’s according to representative of the Caribbean Agriculture Research and development Institute (CARDI), Dr. Gregory Robin.

Speaking on Monday at a research results dissemination seminar which formed part of CARDI Day activities, Dr Robin says based on testing the FHIA 23 variety of banana was found to be the most liked in St. Vincent.

Dr. Robin believes that banana is still a crop that generates much interest from both policy makers and the Ministry of Agriculture.

He hopes the research will support an industry that still has a vital role to play in small farmer agriculture and export hence the reason for fine-tuning the project. He hopes that the new crop will be well received in Dominica.        

News Source: GIS Dominica

At UN Biodiversity conference, new guidelines for agro-environmental policies in LAC

News Date: December 07 2016


6 December 2016, Cancun, Mexico - In an effort to combat the impacts of environmental degradation and promote sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change, FAO this week presented a set ofVoluntary guidelines for agro-environmental policiesmeant to help policy makers in Latin America and the Caribbean in their ongoing work to eradicate hunger and poverty in the region.

The guidelines were introduced at an event on the sidelines of COP 13 - the UN conference on Biodiversity taking place in Cancun, Mexico, December 4-17 - for an audience of ministers and representatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The guidelines will serve as a template for countries to create their own policies to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns, enabling them to transform their agricultural systems, ensure sustainable development and comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

According to FAO, the transition to a sustainable future requires action on the intersection of economy, society, agriculture and natural ecosystems.

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean share common environmental challenges, including the need to adapt agriculture to climate change, conserve biodiversity, manage their water resources and soils, and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.

Other participants in the event included Mexico's National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the NGO Razonatura.

Protecting the resources that support food security

Thirty-seven percent of the surface area of Latin America and the Caribbean is used for agricultural activities, which presents great challenges for sustainable food production and the care of the environment.

According to FAO, the region is experiencing increasing pressure on the natural resources that underpin food production and food security.

The guidelines presented at the COP13 point out that the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change mainly affect the most vulnerable social sectors.

Family farmers, small scale fishermen, smallholder forest producers, indigenous peoples and traditional communities are among those most directly dependent on natural resources for their subsistence and food security.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, family farmers account for 75 percent of total producers -involving some 60 million people - a number that exceeds 90 percent in some countries. These farmers safeguard the environment and the natural resources on which they depend and their work is key for the sector's current and future development.

What are the Voluntary guidelines

The Voluntary guidelines for agro-environmental policies have been prepared through a broad process of consultation between authorities and specialists in the region, with the support of the International Cooperation Program between Brazil and FAO.

The implementation of these guidelines may enhance the potential environmental benefits of agricultural, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture activities, reduce their impacts on ecosystems and improve food availability, as well as food and nutritional security.

The countries of the region, with FAO's support, will promote these voluntary guidelines as a guide to improving policies under an agro-environmental approach that links society, territory, environment and economy in a more integrated and harmonious way.

Policies emerging from these guidelines will be formulated through interaction with different social actors, and seek to promote rural development with a territorial approach, according to principles of conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.

Precious resources under threat

Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 15 percent of the world's total agricultural land, receives almost 30 percent of precipitation and generates 33 percent of global runoff.

However, the rapid exploitation of minerals, gas, forests and pastures is producing dramatic changes in land use: the region currently accounts for 14 percent of global land degradation, a figure that reaches 26 percent for Mesoamerica.

Although deforestation has declined in recent decades, the region still has the second highest rate in the world, and each year more than two million hectares of forest are lost.

In the last three decades water extraction has doubled in the region at a rate well above the world average, most of which is used in agriculture.

News Source: Mexico Star

Taking a Proactive Approach To Protecting Caribbean Agriculture Against Climate Change

News Date: November 07 2016


Trinidad & Tobago, Port of Spain, November 7, 2016 – One of the Caribbean’s most vulnerable states was once again hit again by the double-barrelled impact of a natural disaster and its intensified effects due to climate change. Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti on October 4th, leaving over 500 dead and causing vast crop damage, further depleting the food sources of an already impoverished population. The destruction left behind is another reminder in the Caribbean that something needs to be done to protect the Region’s tenuous farming base and food supply systems from climate change and extreme weather events.

“Caribbean countries and their populations are in a position of increased vulnerability to the effects of natural disasters and climate change related events”, states an August 2016 report on Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Considerations in Agriculture put out by the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (APP).

The third strongest storm on record to make landfall in Haiti tore out grapefruit, banana and avocado trees, damaged important root crops and killed livestock. According to the World Food Program, in the Grand-Anse region nearly 100 percent of crops and 50 percent of livestock were destroyed. Not to mention the fishing industry, which was paralyzed due to material and equipment being washed away. Haitian and international agriculture experts agree that it could be ten years or more before the hardest hit regions of the country can recover from the effects of Hurricane Matthew in the agriculture sector.

Though Hurricane Matthew cannot be directly attributed to climate change, it is very likely to have increased the impact of the hurricane. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA), hurricanes now cause more damage because of climate change. Sea levels have risen by an average of about eight inches around the globe making storm surges and flooding from hurricanes worse. The UCSUSA also says that climate change creates more rainfall in these catastrophic weather events. Warm air holds moisture, so as the atmosphere warms up, rainfalls have become heavier.

These factors make the area experiencing the rain and storm surge more vulnerable. Combine that with the fact that Haiti is one of the regions most exposed to negative impacts from climate change and extreme weather events, and you have a recipe for immense devastation. With only two percent of its original forests left due to decades of exploitation, the country’s ability to absorb the effects of natural disasters are greatly lessened. And, with limited vegetation, rising sea levels and extreme weather events greatly intensify soil and coastal erosion, resulting in overall ecosystem degradation.

In a recent article on “Support for Climate Change Integration in Haiti’s National Development” the Global Climate Change Alliance noted that these conditions would require building climate change adaptation into Haiti’s development policies, strategies, programmes and projects. The Agricultural Policy Programme (APP) is an agriculture development project funded by the European Union (EU) under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). They have also identified the need to address climate change and disaster risk management in agricultural planning, not just in Haiti however, but across the entire Caribbean Region.

According to a 2014 study published by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH)  “climate change in the Caribbean region is observed in rising temperatures along with trends toward more warm extremes and less cold extremes, as well as strong indications for enhanced heavy precipitation.” These factors and their side-effects are doing significant damage to the Caribbean agriculture industry which is already struggling due to high import competition and limited access to financing and new technology.

As noted in a CIMH presentation on Food Security and Environmental Change, Jamaica lost approximately US $6 million in crops between 1999 and 2000 due to drought. In Guyana, floods were responsible for damages totalling approximately US $78 million in 2005 and 2006. Hurricane Ivan caused Grenada US $40 million in damages where 91% of forests and watersheds were stripped of vegetation and the nutmeg sector was setback by ten years.

Going forward, in addressing the impacts, a 2015 paper published by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture on “Assessing the Impact of Climate Change on Cocoa and Tomato”, states that “by 2050, the area of land suitable for growing tomato and other annual crops (in Trinidad) is expected to be reduced by higher temperatures.”

Since it is clear that the climate is changing, the APP has recognized the need to be proactive rather than reactive in their approach to challenges resulting from climate change and natural disasters. As part of their programme they have undertaken initiatives to strengthen the integration of disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change considerations (CCA) into agricultural plans, policies and strategies across CARICOM.

After months of collaboration to create an Audit Instrument, work is now under way, and in some countries complete, to assess the extent to which planning within an agricultural sector integrates disaster risk management, including factors that result from climate change.

The project began with the identification of critical climate change and disaster risk management issues which must be addressed in order for the agriculture sector to become more disaster resilient. From that, ten key pillars for strengthening responses were determined and a tool to assess a country’s readiness to respond was created. After assessments were completed, countries were able to identify gaps in their planning and work to fortify their plans to prepare for and protect and recover from climate change and disaster events.

The analysis, results and gaps identified from these activities “suggest a need for the CARICOM Region to develop and implement agreed priority actions both at the national and regional levels in order to manage the issues of DRM and CCA in Agriculture”, says the APP report, prepared by Dr. Jeremy Collymore. Dr. Collymore also states that there is a “need for more commitment to policy formulation and a commitment to change.  The programmatic elements alone will not generate the systematic change necessary to alter a sector trajectory of repeated loss and disruption to farming systems, livelihoods, communities and national economies.”

The people of Haiti were still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake in 2010 and a recent drought when Hurricane Matthew hit. Today, there are reports of rising food prices at road-side stands and markets across the country. A disaster risk-management plan for agriculture, which takes into account the inevitable and obvious effects of climate change, wouldn’t stop hurricanes like Matthew but the hope is that they will make Caribbean countries more prepared, and enable a quicker recovery in the wake of such events.

News Source: Intra-ACP APP

Guyanese manufacturing executive gives Caribbean lessons on improving agriculture

News Date: October 28 2016


A top official of the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) largest rum producer on Wednesday recommended a raft of steps to help improve the growth and competitiveness of the region’s agricultural sector and overall business innovation.

Managing Director of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), Komal Samaroo told the Caribbean Week of Agriculture’s (CWA) Alliance Meeting – Strategies for Attracting Investments into Agriculture that a two-pronged approach towards education is required.

On the one hand, he said the education sector needs to focus on providing practical hands-on exposure to students through work-study stints to help young people cultivate their entrepreneurial skills.

Still on education, Samaroo further called for consumers to educated about the value and importance of healthy food consumption, as part of efforts to stimulate demand and production. “We need to educate the consumers in the region about the policy of healthy lifestyles and eating fresh and the things that we produce here,” he said. “We need to promote the wholesomeness of the food that we produce here in the Caribbean.”

Samaroo- in his presentation traced DDL’s strategic shift away from bulk commodity rum exports to branded bottled rums as well as the production of juices made from locally-grown fruits-further advised that increased demand could be stimulated by separate and differentiate local from foreign products “to make the choice that is in the interest of the wider society.” “I believe that there is a need to find the mechanism to differentiate and separate products that are produced from indigenous agricultural produce so that consumers of the region are empowered to make the choice,” he said.

The Guyanese business executive, who has lived in Canada for 10 years when he promoted premium DDL rums there, also used the opportunity to call on Caricom decision-makers to register trademarks across the trade and economic bloc with a “single registration” like how that is done for 55 countries under the Madrid Treaty.

He said a single trademark registration would help heighten enhance the profile of Caribbean brands to ensure sustainability and success. “We need to make it easy for entrepreneurs to create Caribbean brands and these brands will attract foreign investment as they become more and more successful. They give visibility to opportunities in the agricultural sector,” he told the forum which included Caricom Secretary General , Irwin La Rocque, and top officials of the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

The DDL boss called on governments to promote cross-marketing of locally food produced food alongside tourism, health and education.

Another recommendation coming from the DDL Managing Director is the fast-tracking of the process of Geographical Indicators to explore the unique aspects of the Caribbean’s history in its products.

Caribbean Week of Agriculture, organized by the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Rural Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), is being hosted this year by the Cayman Islands.

CTA is financed by the European Union and the 77-nation group of former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).

News Source: Demerara Waves

ON THE RIGHT: Scarce water has economic cost

News Date: October 20 2016


Should Barbados fear economic fallout from the recent drought?

The Caribbean region faces significant challenges in terms of drought. It has focused mainly on floods and storms, and so currently lacks effective governance, human resource capacity, and finance, and has poor national coordination, policymaking, and planning in place to deal effectively with drought issues.

The Caribbean accounts for seven of the world’s top 36 water-stressed countries. Barbados is in the top ten.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations defines countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis as water scarce with less than 1000 cubic metres fresh water resources per capita. The predominant practice of rain-fed agricultural production means the region is vulnerable to the very variable and unpredictable rainfall.

Climate change is expected to increase mean temperatures with more warm days and warm nights, with significantly more warming at night.

Annual rainfall is expected to decline by the end of this century, particularly during the wet season. The combined effect of higher temperatures, associated increase in evaporation, and less rainfall means that the Caribbean is likely to experience more intense and frequent droughts.

Recent trends in temperature are consistent with these projections. However, changes in rainfall are less consistent with only weak positive trends in intensity, particularly daily intensity. So the projection of declining rainfall is not yet being experienced.

The alternating wet and dry seasons mean that the region already experiences drought-like events every year, often with low water availability impacting agriculture and water resources, and a significant number of bush fires.

But the Caribbean also experiences intense dry seasons particularly in years with El Niño events. The impacts are usually offset by the next wet season, but wet seasons often end early and dry seasons last longer with the result that annual rainfall is less than expected.

With droughts being more seasonal in nature in the Caribbean, agriculture is the most likely sector to be impacted by drought with serious economic and social consequences.

This is particularly so since the majority of Caribbean agriculture is rain-fed. The agriculture sector responds to the conditions by reduced crop yields, and premature death and low productivity in livestock and poultry.

Even a dry spell of 7-10 days can result in a reduction of yield, depending on crop stage, soil texture and depth, plant health and other environmental conditions. All these factors can influence the livelihoods of farmers.

With irrigation use becoming more widespread in the Caribbean, a country’s fresh water supply becomes increasingly important, along with volume, accessibility and ultimately management.

Policymaking and planning are hindered by weak governance, poor national coordination, lack of capacity, weak coordinated land management, lack of finance, and user conflicts.

However, these can be overcome by strong political will that encourages participation in policy and planning processes by all actors in the social strata from community groups, who determine how resilient systems can be, to the political directorate that provides the enabling environment for sustainable development of water supplies and its efficient use.

A careful study of how these actors interact with the water resources systems can offer key insights into building resilience in the widely varying Caribbean communities and particularly in agricultural systems that would enhance regional food security.

News Source: Nation Newspaper

PM Outlines Action Plan For Aid To Haiti And Bahamas

News Date: October 18 2016


The Honourable Prime Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit, on Friday, outlined a plan of action to be taken by member states in aid of Haiti and the Bahamas.

The Honourable Prime Minister held a press conference on Friday, October 14th, to report on his visit to the two islands following Hurricane Matthew.

At the press conference the CARICOM Chairman revealed that in Haiti two towns in the west were severely affected; Les Cayes and Jeremie.

He also spoke of deaths associated with an outbreak of cholera in Haiti.

“The international and regional health agencies are working on this very diligently to seek to contain the spread of cholera. This is because you would have a double whammy, the hurricane on one side and the suffering it has brought, the several thousands who have been rendered homeless in Haiti,” he said.

The Dominica leader announced CARICOM’s plans in response to this situation.

“From the CARICOM stand point the thinking is that we will focus on education and possibility of repairing a school and to underwrite the expenses of a school feeding programme. We really need to get the children back into school as soon as possible. In addition to that, we have personnel on the ground assisting with the coordination of relief efforts and assisting the Government of Haiti in coordinating its response to the hurricane,” he explained.

He declared that CARICOM member countries will be providing assistance based on the priorities articulated by the government of Haiti.

Honourable Dr. Skerrit already announced that Dominica has committed US $100k to Haiti to assist with its response efforts and to help develop a system that will allow safeguard against future disasters. 

Additionally the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, (CARDI), has been engaged to mobilize seeds and seedlings to Haiti.

The President and Prime Minister of Haiti have indicated that agricultural crops are a major priority since the affected communities were agriculture based.

“We need to ensure that Haiti can get back into agriculture production and to have short term crops which can be ready for cultivation within weeks and in some cases months. This is because you have ensure that Haiti can produce to feed itself,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.

The nation’s leader stated that he has received a positive response to his appeal to the Dominican public to send supplies to Haiti.

“We are now stuffing a 40ft container of items that will be shipped early next week to Les Cayes in Haiti. Les Cayes is one the communities I indicated to you was severely impacted.”

He extended an appeal to churches and church leaders to collect funds and contact the Office of Disaster Management to make donations to Haiti.

Meanwhile in the islands of Grand Bahama and Andros which were severely affected in the Bahamas, the Honourable Prime Minister counts it a miracle that there were no fatalities.

He announced that Dominica has also donated US $100k to the Bahamas as the islands’ Government has a huge task on their hands.

The Hon Prime Minister says he is impressed with the leadership of the Bahamian Prime Minister in response to the significant infrastructural damage caused by the hurricane.

The Prime Minister is calling on all Dominicans to assist these Caribbean countries which have been affected by donating funds and supplies. 

 

News Source: GIS Dominica

25 Receive Training In Post-Harvest Treatment Of Dasheen

News Date: October 17 2016


Twenty-five agriculture industry personnel including exporters, pack-house operators and farmers are set to receive training in post-harvest treatment and handling and packaging of dasheen and other roots and tubers.

This is the second in a series of workshops titled ‘Strengthening the capacity of agro-processors, farmers, and exporters on processing and packaging technology specific to their operations: emphasis on roots and tubers.’

The two-day workshop which began on Wednesday is held at the Dominica Export Import Agency’s (DEXIA) packhouse in Roseau.

The first workshop in this series focused on identifying and recommending suitable packaging materials for agro-products.

This workshop aims to improve the skills and knowledge of key stakeholders in conforming to the commodity standards for dasheen and other roots and tubers.

Representative for the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Dorian Etienne, said that this workshop is timely because of the complaints made by farmers of the low sale of dasheen and other roots and tubers.   

“In context of our food import bill, at the level that it is, there is the urgent need that Dominica has the capacity to produce a portion of the food that is required for domestic consumption and also for export and so strengthening the capacities for agriculture production and processing within an environment that facilitates timely dissemination and effective adoption of appropriate technology is critical to realizing that need,” he said.

Etienne noted that the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and CARDI will continue to collaborate to deliver the expected results of the Agriculture Policy Programme (APP) which is being implemented by IICA and executed by CARDI.

IICA representative, Kent Coipel, explained that the APP has three components; component one deals with policy and strategies and managed by CARIFORUM/CARICOM; component two deals with issue of research and transfer of technology and is managed and implemented by CARDI while component three deals with enterprise development and is managed by IICA.

“The programme is really to strengthen persons involved in agriculture as well as agriculture business itself…we are linking all the components; that is why as much as possible the programmes that we are doing are complimentary to each other.”

This programme is funded under the 10th European Development Fund and is executed through a contribution agreement signed between the European Union and IICA.

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Harold Guiste, said Government is committed to working with farmers to ensure they meet the required post-harvest standards.

“The Ministry is committed to working with DEXIA, Bureau of Standards, the Dominica Hucksters Association and other agencies involved in marketing and sale of dasheen, sweet potatoes and other root crops to ensure that the post-harvest management is done according to prescribed and acceptable standards for consistency and quality,” he said.

Some of the topics to be covered are: commodity standard specifications, post-harvest treatment and post-harvest handling and packaging of dasheen and traceability.

News Source: GIS Dominica

Spotlight On Youth Agri-preneurs

News Date: October 17 2016


GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Monday October 17, 2016 – Organizers are putting the final touches on preparations for the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), the region’s premier agriculture event, to be held in the Cayman Islands in exactly a week.

Ten young entrepreneurs will be exhibiting at the Youth Pavilion during the October 24-28 event.

Here’s a look at what some of them are doing:

Duhaje Jennings – Dada B’s, Jamaica

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DUHAJE JENNINGS, OWNER OF DADA B’S.

Duhaje Jennings has been making bees his business for nine years. And his aim is to make his bee production business, Dada B’s, one of the Caribbean’s largest agricultural producer and food manufacturer.

Jennings, whose business has 10 apiary sites, says his mission is to provide value-added agricultural products in response to a growing world-wide demand.

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He sees vast potential for expansion both locally and overseas.

“The current strategy is to increase production to take on larger markets,” he says.

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Most of the products are sold wholesale to middle men who supply hotels. The remaining products are sold to supermarkets and small shops.

 

Anastasha Elliot – Yaphene, St. Kitts & Nevis

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OWNER OF YAPHENE, ANASTASHA ELLIOT.

Anastasha Elliot is owner of Yaphene, a modern apothecary and gourmet boutique. The business makes organic hair and skin care products using natural butters, oils, dried and fresh herbs.

Yaphene also creates fruit and vegetable jams, flavoured hot sauces, loose tea mixes, candles, herbal breads and novelty cakes and gourmet desserts.

Yaphene was created to provide a natural alternative to everyday hair and beauty products. Its vision is to become the premier natural beauty product producers on the island of St. Kitts. Elliot says the business’ mission is to create the most holistic product, integrating local natural herbal remedies.

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“We understand that more and more of our people are succumbing to diseases such as cancer, which studies are showing has its roots in many of the products we not only eat but also what we are putting on our skin and in our hair,” she says.

“Our mother once had cancer and she beat it by changing our eating habits, creating the products we use among other herbal remedies and she has been cancer free for over 20 years. With a success story such as that behind us, we have a natural impetus to create and to offer what we create to our people, so they too may be able to live a little greener, healthier…with at least once aspect of their lives as free from chemicals as possible. We are starting out selling locally first and plan to spread out throughout the region over the next years.”

 

Kellyann Allicot – Ibis Beauty Box, Barbados

Ibis Beauty Box is a modern, natural botanical skincare line and lifestyle brand that embodies the rich heritage of the Caribbean. The inspiration for Ibis Wellness Inc. stems from the indigenous and local Caribbean flora and the urge to create an extraordinary natural, organic and life style brand.

Allicot says her vision was to create a natural and pure skincare line and accessories that embody the rich heritage of the Caribbean’s traditional beauty and lifestyle regimens, while simultaneously reconnecting people back to nature. She believes this is needed to accomplish total well-being.

“The creation of the skincare line began with my own personal skin battles with eczema as my family and I suffered from the skin condition. The first concoction was formulated by blending natural indigenous herbs in my very own kitchen. The embryonic stage that gave birth to the modern botanical skincare line that exists today,” she says.

The name behind the brand was chosen to pay homage to the scarlet Ibis spotted on a rare occasion in St. Andrew, Barbados. Allicot believes it is a unique bird that exemplifies the magical beauty of the Caribbean and the healing powers the islands have to offer.

 

Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire – Tahomey, Haiti

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Tahomey is a food processing business that sells Haitian cacao and the spices that usually go with it, such as ginger and cinnamon. The business has been in operation for approximately three years.

Tahomey products are made in Abricot, and marketed mainly in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

According to owner Jean-Sebastien Duvilaire, the main collaborators in the business are farmers who are assisted in the pre-processing of the cacao. They, in return, to provide their best quality cacao to make the chocolate product.

“As the owner and chief chocolatier, I take responsibility for quality control,” says Duvilaire.

When questioned about plans for sustainability, Duvilaire said the key was in the quality of the product being offered and the way in which the environment is affected.

“Our work contributes to the value chain of cacao in Haiti and also encourages reforestation in our region which represents the first environmental concern in Haiti,” he says.

 

Graceson John – Big G’S Pepper Sauce, Dominica

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GRACESON JOHN AND HIS PRODUCTS.

Big G’S Pepper Sauce specializes in flavoured pepper sauces, seasoning sauces and salad dressings. The business started in April 2014, creating and developing more than 21 different innovative and creative flavors of pepper, for example coconut, cinnamon, coffee and turmeric.

Owner Graceson John revealed that the business started to supply supermarkets in January of 2015 and also personal exports in the Caribbean. In the past two years, Big G’S pepper sauce has won numerous awards, namely the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015 and the Regional Start Up Entrepreneur Award 2015 in the Youth Business International Regional Awards.

“I choose this business because of my love and passion for cooking and I also major in agriculture science at the Dominica State College…I have also won a few cooking awards in the past, for example, the president’s dinner plate competition 2012 and 2013,” John says.

When asked what to expect from his exhibit at the CWA, he said patrons should be prepared to see the most innovative and creative flavoured pepper sauces in the Caribbean and also all-purpose sauces and seasoning sauces.

News Source: Caribbean 360

Here’s The Key To Reaching Zero Hunger In Latin America And The Caribbean

News Date: October 14 2016


By Orlando Milesi

SANTIAGO, Chile, Friday October 14, 2016, IPS – Climate change is leading to major modifications in agricultural production in Latin America and the Caribbean, and if mitigation and adaptation measures of the productive system are not urgently adopted, threats to food security will be exacerbated.

This could reverse the significant progress made in the region by means of plans to achieve the Zero Hunger goal, the experts told IPS.

For example, to maintain coffee yields, crops had to be moved from 1,000 to between 1,200 and 2,000 metres above sea level, while many Chilean vineyards had to be moved south, to get more sun and rain.

Large companies can afford to buy other land, but many family farmers find their livelihood at risk and wonder if the time has come to change crops or even to leave their land and move to a city, in order to survive.

“Climate change puts us in a situation of insecurity. If in the past we were able to more or less estimate average temperatures or humidity for a particular area, now we have lost the capacity to make forecasts based on a certain degree of probability,” Jorge Meza, an Ecuadorian expert in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) regional office, told IPS.

“Considering that the effects could be either positive or negative, it has been estimated that by 2030 the impacts from climate change on the regional economy could reach an average of 2.2 per cent of GDP in damage,” he said.

“Some of the effects could be beneficial, like an increase in rainfall that would mean more water for crops,” said Meza, the senior forestry officer in the Santiago office.

But in general terms, he said, if the losses amount to 2.2 per cent of GDP, “there will be countries with zero economic growth, and beyond the economic factor, there will be a strong social impact, of four to five per cent.”

FAO’s aim is to underscore the links between climate change mitigation and adaptation and food security, with the slogan “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”, for this year’s World Food Day, celebrated Sunday Oct. 16.

One example to be considered is the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) forecast for Central America.

If the necessary climate change mitigation and adaptation measures are not taken, production of basic grains could be reduced 25 per cent by 2050, the regional U.N. agency estimates.

“This is alarming for two reasons: first because it means a shortage of food, and second because the remaining food – that 75 per cent – will become more expensive. Both phenomena will have an impact on the poor: with less food available, and more costly food, there will be reduced possibilities of access to basic grains,” Meza said.

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A FAMILY FARM IN THE STATE OF RIO DE JANEIRO,BRAZIL, WITH A PLANTING SYSTEM ADAPTED TO THE MANIFESTATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE AREA. (PHOTO CREDIT: FABIOLA ORTIZ/IPS)

Climate change is seen in Latin America in some 70 annual weather events, including hurricanes, drought, fires, landslides, and mainly floods, which affect an average of five million people.

Meanwhile, one third of the 625 million people in Latin America live in high-risk areas, exposed to climate events that pose a threat to their livelihood.

At the same time, climate change has more long-term effects, such as declining productivity in agriculture and a greater need to shift crop production areas.

“They say that if you don’t move and continue planting in the same area, you will probably have lower yields, and that could require more inputs or technologies and more resistant seeds,” Costa Rican economist Adrián Rodríguez, head of the Agricultural Development Unit in the ECLAC regional office, told IPS.

“From the point of view of family farming or the production of crops that play an important role in food security, an increase in food prices could affect farmers and consumers,” he said.

He added that there is another effect that has already been seen: the need for relocalisation of productive activities.

“If the climate is no longer suitable for production, you have to move to other areas where the agroecological and climate conditions are adequate. For large companies this is not a big problem, but it is for small-scale producers with less technology, lower levels of investment and a more reduced capacity for stockpiling,” he said.

In 2015, Latin America became the first region in the world to reach the two global anti-hunger goals: the prevalence of malnutrition fell to 5.5 per cent and the total number of malnourished people dropped to 34.3 million.

Thus, the region reached the target set in the Millennium Development Goals – which were replaced by theSustainable Development Goals this year – and also at the last World Food Summit.

However, the challenge now is to reach zero hunger, a goal that could be affected by climate change, which has an impact on the four pillars of food and nutritional security: stability in food production, availability of food, physical access and affordability of food, and adequate use of food.

Meza called for mitigation actions that take into consideration a change in the energy sector towards renewable sources and, in agriculture, a shift towards organic practices, avoiding deforestation, the use of animal waste to generate biogas, and improvements in the diets of livestock with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other measures.

Rodríguez said mitigation should start by providing farmers with timely meteorological information while developing varieties of crops more resistant to drought, moisture and variability in availability of water and sunlight, and optimising the use of water with more efficient irrigation systems.

He also proposed strengthening research based on the knowledge of “family farmers and indigenous people, who have traditional varieties better suited to certain climates or soils…It is important to take this knowledge into account.”


 

News Source: Caribbean 360

At least 300 schools in Haiti unusable; agricultural sector suffered extensive damage

News Date: October 12 2016



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The death toll from Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti on October 4, continues to rise. Haiti is facing the greatest humanitarian emergency since the earthquake in 2010. The full extent of the damage remains unknown. Photo: UNICEF/UN034980/Abassi, UN-MINUSTAH

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- One week after Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti, more than 100,000 children are missing out on learning as their schools were either damaged or converted into shelters, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported on Tuesday, stressing the urgent need to rehabilitate those facilities. 

Meanwhile, on Monday, the ministry of agriculture, natural resources and rural development (MARNDR) released a first partial report of extensive damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in the agricultural sector.

“At least 100,000 children today will not experience the joy, safety and stimulation that being in a classroom brings,” said UNICEF's deputy representative in Haiti, Jean Metenier, in a news release. “We need to get them back to learning as soon as possible. Hurricane Matthew took away their schools, homes and textbooks. It shouldn't take away their sense of hope.”

Schools across the country are reopening but, according to initial national estimates, at least 300 public schools have been partially or entirely damaged in the country and many others are being used to shelter displaced families. Schools in Sud and Grande Anse departments will remain closed for at least another week.

UNICEF is working with partners to help set up temporary learning spaces. Priorities include rehabilitating damaged schools, delivering adequate school supplies, furniture and teaching materials, and providing children with psychosocial support.

The ministry of agriculture released a preliminary report detailing hundreds of thousands of metric tons of production losses due to the hurricane and the loss of hundreds of thousands of livestock, as well as damaged or destroyed fishing boats and equipment, processing buildings, irrigation systems and farm roads.

News Source: Caribbean News Now

Students briefed on careers in agriculture

News Date: October 12 2016


Fifth form Agricultural Science and Business students of St Rose’s High School were addressed by Training Coordinator of the National Agriculture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) Benjamin Frank during a career discussion at the school on October 4th.

St Rose’s students get pointers on agri careers

St Rose’s students get pointers on agri careers

The school visit, which included a pictorial display, was one of the activities scheduled as part of Agriculture Month 2016, the theme of which is, ‘Exploring new production frontiers: in pursuit of climate resilience.’

It involved a lecture by Frank on potential areas of pursuit within the field as well as an outline of the process and requirements for attaining each.

Student David Baxter expressed that the session piqued his interest in the subject area. “I understand that many people in Guyana look at agriculture like that’s a bad thing but my personal opinion is that agriculture is a wonderful career to pursue and I might just be pursuing it myself. I was considering it a bit before but now it’s more of an interest now so I might just do it,” Baxter related.

His batch mate, Deandra Mangal, a student of the Art stream, also has her options open to continuing in the area. “…I’m sure a lot of us learnt a lot because we don’t really get these sessions in school but it was a good idea for NAREI to come here and to give us this debriefing,” she stated.

News Source: Stabroek News

New UN study calls for targeted agricultural policies, investments in rural areas in the Caribbean

News Date: October 01 2016


UNITED NATIONS, Oct 1, CMC – A new United Nations reports says economic growth is not enough to eliminate poverty in rural areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, urging governments to develop targeted policies and investments for agricultural development.

The report also urged governments to correct historic inequality experienced by millions of people across the region.

“With the region’s poorest people living in rural areas, the Rural Development Report 2016 demonstrates the need for a far more comprehensive and holistic approach to economic development in order to eradicate poverty and ensure prosperity for millions of people,” said Kanayo F.Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“The report makes it clear that investing in rural and agricultural development means investing in the whole economy,” Nwanze said

IFAD said the report titled “The Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering Inclusive Rural Transformation”  a “rallying call topolicy makers and development practitioners to win the global war against poverty.”

In the report, leading thinkers analyzed the experiences of rural development in over 60 developing countries, 16 of them in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Although millions of people in the region have left poverty behind over the last few decades, inequality remains extremely high in the region and one quarter of the population still lives in poverty,” said Joaquín Lozano, IFAD Director for Latin American and the Caribbean.

“To change this situation, we have to start in the rural areas where poverty is more pervasive,” he added.

The report establishes that to enable Latin America and the Caribbean to overcome poverty, inclusive rural transformation needs a comprehensive approach that goes beyond just increasing agricultural productivity.

The report urges that rural people get access to land, infrastructure, health, education and finance, and contribute to establishing stronger local, regional and national institutions.

According to the report, over the past few decades, great strides had been made to overcome the traditional urban-rural dichotomy.

For instance, the report says agriculture is no longer the only economic activity in rural areas, where more and more families are combining farming and non-farming activities to make a living.

The report also says cultural differences between rural and urban populations, especially among the youth, are blurring; and the divide between urban and rural areas is also blurring, as rural communities grow into medium-sized cities and more people live between ruraland urban areas.

“This complex reality represents opportunities, as well as challenges, that require policymakers and development practitioners to change their approach to rural poverty issues,” the report says.

Additionally, the report says that policies and investments need to bring poor, often marginalized, rural people into the economic mainstream “so that rural development is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.”

“If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, rural areas need to be transformed,” Nwanze said.

“But we know from this report that the process is not automatic,” he added. “It is a choice governments need to make and t is a choice that is becoming increasingly urgent. The future prosperity of people and nations depend on it.”

News Source: Antigua Observer

Chefs and policymakers champion local cuisine, agriculture potential in ACP islands

News Date: September 29 2016


“By importing so much food, small island developing states - SIDS - are basically exporting jobs”. This was the message of CTA Director Michael Hailu at the recently held Brussels Briefing on “Agribusiness development in SIDS: the potential of tourism-related markets”. The Briefing delivered a strong impetus for the strengthening of linkages between local agri-food and tourism sectors, in order to support sustainable economic development and employment, and reduce the dependence on cheap imported foods which has led to dangerous rates of non-communicable diseases in many SIDS.

Over 140 participants attended the Brussels Briefing on the morning of 21 September at the ACP Secretariat to join a panel of experts discussing the opportunities and successful approaches for linking agribusinesses and producers to tourism markets in small island economies across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Among the speakers at the event were three-star chefs who have significantly contributed to promoting local cuisines and foods in their respective regions. For them, the Briefing was an important platform to demonstrate the role of chefs as key players for achieving more profitable and resilient agri-food systems in SIDS.

Robert Oliver, chef, author and television presenter from the Pacific, spoke passionately about the need to preserve, promote and innovate on local food traditions, not only for domestic consumers, but importantly also for tourists. This will have a directly positive impact for local farmers, producers and agri-food businesses, many of which face significant challenges to compete against imported goods. "When local food is in tourism, it creates a whole raft of activities; it becomes tourism for everybody, from the coco oil-makers to the cocoa Samoa makers, to the jam and jelly-makers" Chef Oliver added.

"I want to look at a plate of food that goes with a view – an approach that goes beyond the plate and beyond the recipe. It's an approach that is designed to empower chefs and stimulate economies to reclaim tradition and health – and I call this the power of cuisine."
Chef Robert oliver

Executive Chef Peter Edey from Barbados developed a programme for young chefs to compete by cooking high quality, beautifully presented dishes using local vegetables and products from a mystery basket. This encourages the next generation of Caribbean chefs to recognise the value and potential of home grown flavours.

"We as chefs drive this programme and we are aware of the tremendous responsibility that we have been given... At the end of the day everything that farmers produce, that they manufacture, will then have to be put on a plate by the chefs. How it tastes, how it looks, how it is presented, is going to be done by the chefs, so this is why chefs play an important role".
Chef Peter Edey

In Haiti, Stephan Berrouet Durand, Executive Chef of Culinary by Design, champions a number of important initiatives to promote local gastronomy and the relationship between agriculture and chefs. In addition to his involvement in the establishment of a local culinary association, a food and wine festival and the Haiti Gastronomy Month, Chef Stephan is now part of an exciting new development to link Chefs with local farmers using a mobile app.

"The chefs are now able to go onto that app and discover who is producing what, and be able to go to see them, and talk about exactly the type of produce they want to use in their restaurants and their hotels."
Chef Stephan Berrouet Durand

This brings new opportunities for both parties; according to Chef Stephan "We [chefs] are able to work with these farmers, and they are able to tell us 'These are the products that we have, this is how much we produce, and this is how you're going to be able to purchase with us'".

Small island developing states in the Caribbean and Pacific are some of the countries most dependent on food imports worldwide; in fact, the annual food import bill of the Caribbean region totals over $4 billion – in some SIDS food imports make up 50% of all imports, many times higher than the world average of 7%. The tourism sector, which contributes between 14% and 30% of GDP in SIDS is also a significant contributor to this food import bill, as hotels, resorts, cruise ships, hospitality and entertainment facilities spend millions to ensure that there is a constant supply of food for guests, visitors and staff.

The Briefing constituted an important opportunity to take stock of the progress in agritourism development ACP SIDS, particularly in respect to landmark initiatives which CTA has supported. Howard Aru, Director General of Ministry of Agriculture in Vanuatu, noted the achievements of the Vanuatu Agritourism Policy Setting, for which CTA provided significant support, and which has since led to Vanuatu's commitment to develop the Pacific's first ever Agritourism Policy, and has also attracted the interest of regional partners with financing.

Culinaria

Samoa, which recently held the Second Pacific Agribusiness Forum, has also made significant strides to link the agribusiness and tourism sectors. For Charlotte Chan Mow – Brunt, the General Manager of the Orator Hotel, Samoa's private sector can do more to reflect the local pride in Pacific culture, history and food in its activities, and the tourist sector has a lot to benefit from the agriculture and food heritage of the region. Papali'i Sonja Hunter, CEO, Samoa Tourism Authority and Chair of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), emphasised the importance of agritourism in the region's future. She further encouraged CTA to present its work with SIDS to the Tourism Ministers of the Pacific region.

"It's really important for us, as Samoa and as the Pacific, to look at building an agritourism strategy".
Papali'i Sonja Hunter

The need to advance intra-SIDS dialogue and cooperation was a point further emphasised by Ena Harvey, Expert in Agritourism, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), who has had the opportunity to work with the Pacific island countries, notably Vanuatu, both in her home region of the Caribbean, but also through her participation in CTA co-organised forums in the Pacific. Through this collaboration, best practices in agritourism can be shared between the various islands, such as the importance of investing in quality, standards and certification in the agriculture sector, without which local producers cannot service the hospitality industry. Harvey was also keen to encourage innovative financiers to look to agritourism, culinary tourism and the like, as an exciting opportunity to invest in.

"Many of our SMEs do not have the standard collateral instruments, and we need the business angels and the crowdfunding and that type of out-of-the-box financing".
Ena Harvey

 

Climate change: myth or reality for Caribbean tourism?

News Date: September 27 2016


By Gaunette Sinclair-Maragh

Countries around the world are celebrating World Tourism Day under the theme ‘Tourism for all …Promoting universal accessibility’. This focus is quite fitting as the tourism industry, globally, is facing several challenges inclusive of climate change which could stymie access to the various destinations.

For many years, the United Nations (UN) recognised the importance of having dialogue about greenhouse gas emissions and subsequently established the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to facilitate discourse for protecting the climatic system. The dialogue has not changed, and each year since then this meeting dubbed Conferences of the Parties (COP) is held to further the discussion.

Seemingly, there is more urgency for discussions surrounding climate change, its causes and impacts, and seriousness in establishing mitigation and adaptive strategies. The paradigm has shifted from mere meetings and discussions to a regulatory action to reduce greenhouse gas emission to below 2°C by countries around the world and adaptive strategies to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Scientists have found that greenhouse gas emissions of which carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main contributors are causing anthropogenic climate change (global warming). The aim to reduce greenhouse gas emission was at the forefront at the COP 21 Conference held in December 2015 in Paris, thus, the Paris Climate Change Agreement (PCCA).

For the first time, there is an agreement to seriously address this phenomenon. This agreement is the “world’s first legally binding plan” to deal with climate change with the goal of attaining a “low carbon, climate resilient future”. Already, 175 parties to the UNFCCC have signed the agreement at the opening for signature in April of this year. This will be opened for a year to allow other parties to do so. Despite this initiative, some populations remain doubtful, tardy and even oblivious of the climate change phenomenon. Some are still deliberating about climate change and this leads to the question: Is climate change a myth or reality?

In response to the threat of climate change, the USA is determined to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28 per cent below 2°C by 2025. President Barack Obama posits global warming to be “one of the most urgent challenges of our time”. He declares the Clean Power Plan, where power-generation companies will be expected to reduce CO2 emissions by the year 2030. The aim is to make the USA the global leader in the fight against climate change. On September 2, 2016, the USA ratified the PCCA. This is rightly so as the USA is the world’s largest economy and correspondingly one of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases.

In accordance with this initiative, President Xi Jinping of China likewise deposited their instrument of ratification to the UN. China is known for its coal economy, which although it supplies cheap electricity, produces most of the global CO2. Together both countries contribute 38 per cent of human emissions. Some critics believe that having the world’s two largest economies ratifying the Paris agreement is a show. The USA and China will also be collaborating in amending the Montreal Protocol to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in refrigeration systems, for example, air conditioners, and to have discussions with the International Civil Aviation Organization regarding the reduction of aviation emissions with the aim of decreasing its contribution to greenhouse gases.

September 2016 can be hallmarked as the month for ratifying the climate change agreement by large economies, as Brazil also took this step and pledged to reduce emissions by 37 per cent by 2025 and 43 per cent by 2030. Realisation of these goals could be highly beneficial since Brazil currently emits 2.5 per cent of the world’s CO2 and is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America. As described, the ‘gala performance’ by the USA and China in ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement and the inclusion of Brazil in this initiative will influence other countries around the world to do likewise, especially the remainder of the BRICS union, that is, Russia, India and South Africa. Collectively, the BRICS countries comprise 42 per cent of the world’s population (three billion people). Their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions would have a major positive impact on the UN initiative. India has declared its unreadiness to make such commitment at this time due to lack of resources to implement the various strategies to achieve the climate change goal and to devise adaptive strategies.

If there is ratification of the agreement by 55 countries which represent 55 per cent of global emissions, then the PCCA can be enforced. There is an urgent call for the UK Government to ratify the agreement despite its focus on Brexit. The Australian Government is aiming to do so by the end of the year and has started its effort by imposing a clean air quality policy for motor vehicle manufacturers to produce vehicles that will not contribute to carbon emissions.

Despite the movements to address climate change, the USA Republican Party opposes regulations geared towards climate change as there is disbelief about global warming. In fact, a third of the US population believes that climate change is a hoax and 57 per cent disbelieve the UN scientists. If the Republican Party wins the upcoming general election, they plan to pull the USA out of this agreement.

With all this preamble and mixed views, what is the Caribbean’s position? Is climate change a myth or reality for this region? Though not a scientist or geologist, already there are changes in climatic and weather patterns, and corresponding environmental degradation. The year 2015 was confirmed by scientists as the hottest year on historical record and the year 2016 seems to be superseding this. In Jamaica there is evidence of receding shorelines on the south coast to include Little Ochi and Hellshire as well as Negril in the west and Port Maria in the north; prolonged drought; heavy rainfall resulting in flooding and change in rainfall patterns. In Barbados, the marine and coastal ecosystems are being destroyed. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2013) report, there is indication of rise in the ocean temperature and sea level as well as more dangerous and intense storm and hurricanes in the region. The biological productivity of the sea is also threatened. These are indicative of changes taking place with and within the natural environmental. What is worrisome is that countries in the Caribbean region seem to be highly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. The majority of them are small island developing states (SIDS) and by virtue of size and location, they are highly vulnerable.

Not only is the region at risk from climate change if it is real, but one of its most substantial and dependent sectors of the economy, tourism, is threatened. The Caribbean region highly depends on tropical tourism through its natural attributes of having ‘sand, sun and sea’. Interestingly, it is said that the smaller countries around the world emit less greenhouse gas, thus contributing to a lesser extent to climate change and global warming, yet they are the ones that are most vulnerable to these impacts due to their size, location and also inability to finance adaptive and mitigating strategies. This is understood as these countries have lower population counts and manufacturing capabilities when compared to larger ones.

The question that comes to the forefront is: What impact will climate change have on tourism in the region? It is a fact that countries in the Caribbean depend on the tourism economy for sustained growth and development. Tourism has become the “lifeblood” of these economies due to decline in agriculture and bauxite among other traditional industries. Tropical tourism is the main attraction for visitors to these destinations; therefore, any impact by climate change can be devastating to the region’s economy, as the resources on which tourism depends will be destroyed over a period of time.

Is climate change in the Caribbean myth or reality? Can the region afford to be complacent despite this probe? Some countries in the region have already signed the PCCA. These include Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Dominica, Dominica Republic, St Lucia, Haiti, Guyana, and Grenada. Will they be ratifying the agreement by the end of the year 2016? Although signing and ratifying the agreement are important steps toward the commitment to adaptive changes and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, what about the resources required for doing so? So far Jamaica has raised discussions about its response as indicated in the 2030 Vision. Guyana has been nurturing and expanding its forestry to absorb excessive CO2. However, where are the more comprehensive plans for the Caribbean to achieve this goal? The UN has already identified the lack of resources to be a major deterrent for developing countries and is seeking to have the more developed countries assist in funding and technologies. The UN World Tourism Organization is also calling for climate change mitigation and preventative strategies to assist member countries.

Another initiative is that on September 16, 2016, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association joined forces through an agreement to provide climate change services solution in the region so as to jointly protect the tourism industry. This will be done through research and development. The intention is to have other bodies on board such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Caribbean Public Health Agency, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association. As a combined force, their actions and decisions should be useful in addressing the issue at hand.

In conclusion, if climate change is a myth, then there is no need for concern. If it is a reality, then climate change will exacerbate economic and social challenges. Many natural attractions will no longer exist and revenue inflows from tourism will be drastically reduced. While we stand by to hear more from scientists, geologists, world leaders, politicians and the various global regulatory bodies, let us play our individual and collective roles in making the Caribbean accessible for tourism today and in the future. Let us also not lose sight of the other emerging issues such as Brexit that has the propensity to impact the region.

Gaunette Sinclair-Maragh, PhD, is associate professor at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,University of Technology, Jamaica. Send comments to the Observer or gaunsm@gmail.com.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Agro processors trained in roots and tuber packaging

News Date: September 27 2016


Dominica’s export-import agency (DEXIA) hopes that a two-day workshop for agro-processors will help improve their packaging capabilities to allow them to be export ready.

The two-day workshop began on Monday September 26 with an emphasis on roots and tubers.   

Root crops include beets and carrots and tubers are potatoes and similar foods.

This is part of the Caribbean Action Agriculture Policy Programme focusing on the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The programme is executed through a contribution agreement signed between the European Union and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, IICA, in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, CARDI, funded under the 10th European Development Fund, EDF.

IICA representative, Kent Coipel, told GIS News what they hope will be the outcome of the workshop.

“We expect that agro processors will be more aware of the technology available for packaging their particular product.”

Coipel says many agro-processors use just what packaging material can be locally-sourced or is used for other products.

The training is meant to hone in on the best materials for roots and tubers for export to targeted markets.

Coipel stated that IICA is working closely with the Dominica Bureau of Standards to share specific information relevant to agro-processors.

The main objectives of the workshop will be to identify and recommend suitable packaging material for agro-products; to coach agro-processors on food processing methods and roots and tubers development; to identify basic equipment and materials to assist in the peeling, slicing, and packaging of dasheen and other tubers, and to improve the skills and knowledge of packhouse operators, exporters, and technicians.

Taufeek Ali, the facilitator, says the agenda features hands-on equipment training.

Ali believes that one of the region’s challenges is tradition.

News Source: GIS Dominica

Cayman Hosts Caribbean Week of Agriculture Conference

News Date: September 21 2016


The fourteenth Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), one of the Caribbean’s most significant Agriculture focused events, will be hosted in the Cayman Islands from 24-28 October, 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture. The conference includes a ‘Marketplace’- 2-day Outdoor Living Expo, organised in partnership with the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce. This prestigious conference is typically attended by Ministers of Agriculture, Permanent Secretaries, Chief Technical Officers, Senior CARICOM Officials and delegates from across the Caribbean. However, a delegation from the Pacific Islands, as well as leaders from neighbouring territories will also be travelling to the Cayman Islands for this year’s event.

Hosted in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat and the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu (“The Alliance”), the Caribbean Week of Agriculture was conceptualised to place agriculture and rural life on the “front burner” of integrated regional activities. Its principle objective is to enable key decision-makers in the public and private sectors to better acknowledge the importance of agriculture and rural life, to the economic, social and environmental stability of the region. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Investing in Foods and Agriculture.

Hon Kurt Tibbetts, Minister for Agriculture, explained that “The challenge of attracting capital investment has long been recognised as a major constraint for the development of Agriculture in the Caribbean. As the 2016 host of CWA and the leading Financial Services Centre in the region, the Cayman Islands, along with the members of the CWA Steering Committee, agreed that the issue of investment would be the appropriate focus. The theme therefore signifies the importance of investment for both primary agriculture and the region’s developing food industry.”

Councillor for Tourism, Joseph Hew, who chairs the Local Organising Committee said, “As an Associate Member Territory of CARICOM, it is an honour for the Cayman Islands to have this opportunity to host the 2016 CWA. While tourism significantly contributes to all of the region’s economies, it also boosts the agriculture sector by increasing the demand for, and consumption of, quality products that are locally produced. By bringing together decision-makers and stakeholders to discuss issues and developments related to agriculture, CWA serves as a valuable vehicle for exchanging ideas and the forging of joint initiatives aimed at increase agri-business opportunities,” he said.

Although the week-long series of seminars and workshops will largely pertain to initiatives in agriculture, the Committee is also ensuring that linkages between tourism and agriculture in the Cayman Islands context are underscored, particularly during the host country social events. Aside from the meetings, delegates will have an opportunity to tour Grand Cayman and visit farmers and livestock producers in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. “The global focus on health and well-being has spurred a renewed interest in locally produced fruits and vegetables and livestock farming is now striving to meet increasing demand, said Minister Tibbetts. This ongoing evolution has helped to spur a thriving ‘farm-to-fork’ movement that is becoming so successful; it is one of the areas we look forward to showcasing for attendees,” he said.

One of the highlights of CWA will be a two-day ‘Marketplace’ Outdoor Living Expo which will be held at the ARC at Camana Bay from 26-27 October. “Marketplace is a unique event for the Chamber of Commerce because it involves local as well as Caribbean businesses,” stated Chief Executive Officer, Wil Pineau, “Marketplace provides an affordable opportunity for agriculture related enterprises in Cayman and across the Region to exhibit their products and services and to create a wider network with potential customers, prospects and business partners. The Chamber is excited to be partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism and we encourage local business owners not to miss this outstanding opportunity to get involved.”

For further information on the Caribbean Week of Agriculture please visit the conference website. To register for a booth at the Marketplace or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Membership Coordinator at the Chambers of Commerce by visitinghttp://www.caymanchamber.ky/marketplace.html or calling 743-9129.

News Source: The Cayman Reporter

Investing in the Future of the Caribbean means investing in Agriculture

News Date: September 21 2016



EU-INTRA-ACP APP TO HOST A TWO-DAY FORUM DISCUSSING THE WHO, WHAT, WHY AND HOW OF INVESTING IN MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM AGRI-ENTERPRISES IN THE CARIBBEAN

KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 21, 2016 – Most everyone probably agrees that farms are important. Without farms and other agricultural enterprises, there would be no food. Countries could rely on imports to feed their population but that is expensive and leaves a country vulnerable. So, why is it so challenging for agricultural enterprises to secure financing and attract investors?

Operators of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) involved in agriculture in the Caribbean cite access to financing as one of their greatest challenges.

“It is difficult for small farmers to obtain financing because there are certain levels of record keeping  and guaranteed markets that are required by lending institutions before you can even be considered,” says Neil Gomes, Vice President of the Team Fresh Produce, Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) group in Antigua. “As a result, many farmers are reluctant to even approach a lending institution.”

Robert A. Reid, International Consultant, Agribusiness agrees that pre-requisites are an issue, along with the matter of risk. “The difficulty in obtaining financing also stems from a general perception on the part of Financial Institutions (FIs) of the level of risk in lending to agricultural SMEs,” says Mr. Reid. “They are known to experience production and market failures due to factors outside of their control such as adverse climatic conditions, theft of crop, unfair market competition, and failure to collect sales receipts from buyers in a timely manner. FIs have not been proactive in looking at innovative financing schemes where the exposure of the MSME and themselves to high levels of risk can be reduced.”

It is for this reason that the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP), which aims to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture, made it a priority to increase opportunities to secure financing for agricultural MSMEs. Previous activities executed under the APP have generated a wealth of raw data and analysis pertaining to production, markets, commodity-based value chain development initiatives, and the financing needs of agricultural MSMEs. Now, as stated in the action plan for the APP, it is time to “enhance CARIFORUM financial service providers understanding” of opportunities in agriculture.

One initiative aimed at furthering this action is a two-day Regional Agri-Value Chain Finance Forum which will take place later this month in Jamaica. Participants of the forum will include over 50 people from the CARIFORUM and Pacific regions, including representatives of regional and national financial institutions, leaders of producer, enterprise, women and youth groups and networks, and experts in the area of agri-value chain financing. 

The main goal of the forum is to share knowledge with FIs; to give them a better understanding of smallholder agriculture and their important role in this industry that is vital to the Caribbean.

“The event will present to them innovative risk-mitigating practices and specific opportunities to be involved in agri-value chain financing of MSMEs. It will also facilitate further face-to-face engagement of CARIFORUM-based MSMEs with financial institutions for the purpose of increasing their access to credit,” said Mr. Reid.

A specific goal of the forum is also to pursue an agreement for the establishment of a CARIFORUM FI Platform for Agri-Value Chain Business Development and to identify a group of Champion FIs that would be charged with the task of overseeing future agricultural initiatives related to financing.

Over the course of the five technical sessions it is expected that attendees will gain a better understanding of their opportunities. For financial institutions, it will be learning about exciting projects in which they can invest. For producer groups, it will be learning about how to become a credit and investment worthy business, and how to better access financing.

Financiers will also be presenting workable proposals for improving access to finance for agribusiness development, and producer groups will be sharing their financing needs. A specific spotlight will be put on Roots & Tubers as an important Caribbean commodity that provides an informed opportunity for investment across the value chain.

“These (roots and tubers) are widely grown by small and medium size farmers in all CARIFORUM countries and at the highest policy level, have been deemed as ‘Priority’ commodities for attention,” says Mr. Reid. “Domestic and export market prospects for these roots and tubers are very encouraging, and so are the prospects for down-stream value addition to produce snack foods, baked products and beverages.

He also notes that organizations such as the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN), the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA) and several chapter members within the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP) are pursuing roots and tubers production and value-added initiatives, and that these initiatives are supported by the APP and will require further financing in order to grow.

Mr. Gomes hopes that this forum is a success story. Personally, he would like to find out if he is ready to be considered by a financial institution to receive funding and to negotiate support. On a wider scale, he sees it as an opportunity to show young farmers that it is not just “doom and gloom”, as he puts it, but that farming can be a lucrative business opportunity and a good way of life.

The APP Caribbean Action, as part of a wider the Intra-ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) APP project, seeks to also simultaneously address the concerns of rural communities and small holders in in the Pacific region. The conditions for agriculture production in the Pacific are very similar to the Caribbean. Both regions face difficulties from natural disasters, high food prices, small domestic markets, climate change and reliance on an export market with preferential market access to the EU for commodities and limited access to financing. This is why key individuals from the Pacific Region have been invited to the Jamaica Forum. The Pacific will be represented by the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC), the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) and the Fiji Merchant Finance & Investment Co Ltd, as well as the Pacific APP Intra-ACP Team Leader.

The forum will provide an opportunity for the Caribbean Action APP to wrap up the work that has been done in facilitating better financing opportunities for agricultural MSMEs in the Caribbean Region. Information, lessons learnt and recommendations for moving forward will be shared among participants, including those from the Pacific, in a manner that can benefit stakeholders in both regions.

The workshop will take place at the Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston, on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th September. Caribbean participants are being financed under Component 3 of the APP programme and for the Pacific participants, by The Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), which is responsible for managing the Intra-ACP component of the APP. The APP is funded by the European Union under 10th European Development Fund.

For More Information about the Regional Agri-Value Chain Finance Forum, please email Robert Reid, IICA International Consultant, Agribusiness at robertreid79@gmail.com and/or Ainsworth Riley, IICA Agribusiness Specialist at ainsworth.riley@iica.net

Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management: Prepare, Respond, Recover

News Date: September 19 2016


Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, September 19, 2016 – “Climate has changed; climate will change and climate demands change”, said Dr. Michael Taylor, a Physicist at a Climate Studies Group in the Caribbean in 2012. He was right. Climate change doesn’t just mean a few more hot days at the beach or a greater need for air conditioning. In the Caribbean, climate change means water shortages, extreme weather events, rising sea levels and so much more. In short, it means an overall stress on our environment and economy, especially when it comes to agriculture. Therefore, action is required to address these changes.

The Caribbean Action under the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP), funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), is a project aimed at addressing the development needs of smallholder agriculture in order to reduce poverty and increase food and nutrition security in the Region. The programme addresses issues such as, strong policy, new and improved technologies, marketing support and strengthening value chains, all in support of the agriculture industry.

Clearly, these are all very important initiatives. However, if the issue of climate change is not addressed it could affect the entire industry to the end that there isn’t enough local food to even demand value chains, marketing and the like.

In light of this reality, the APP Component 1, led by the CARICOM Secretariat, will host a Regional Validation Meeting on Strengthening the Integration of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Considerations in the Agriculture Sector.  The meeting will take place on September 22nd and 23rd in Saint Lucia at the Bay Gardens Inn, where at least 25 participants from around the Caribbean will gather. Attendees will include senior officials from Ministries of Agriculture, National Hydro-meteorological, Environmental and Climate Change Focal Points and Coordinators and representatives from the Regional Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The main goal of the forum is to share the outcomes of a Consultancy that was undertaken as part of the APP. The purpose of the consultancy was to build capacity to strengthen the integration of disaster risk management and climate change considerations into the agricultural sector.

Since it is clear that the climate is changing, the APP recognized the need to be proactive in the approach to challenges that result from climate change, rather than reactive. They engaged a Drought Management Specialist, an Agriculture Economist and a Disaster Risk Management Specialist to create an Audit Instrument that assesses the extent to which planning within an agricultural sector integrates disaster risk management, including factors that result from climate change. The experts were tasked with creating that tool and testing it to see if it was indeed effective.

Secondly, with a focus on Grenada and Saint Lucia, the experts were asked to build Drought Hazard Annexes to agricultural risk management plans that were already in place in those countries. The drought plans include preparedness actions for drought risk management such as early warning systems, contingency water supply plans and risk transfer mechanisms; drought monitoring and reporting actions such as measurement and analysis of precipitation, soil moisture levels and water storage levels in dams and reservoirs and; drought response actions such as water supply management, including rationing and public awareness and activation of drought risk transfer plans.

Over the course of the meeting, participants will review findings and share ideas on how best to improve the audit tool and the drought plans. They will discuss how to standardize them for use across the Region and how to ensure that processes are sustainable over time. They will identify resource requirements that need to be in place to make the tool and plans work as they were designed, and assign actions for follow up.

All of this will be done with the end goal in mind of moving past a crisis based response to climate change and instead, strengthening the Caribbean’s readiness to respond to and recover from environmental events caused by climate change.

For More Information about the Regional Validation Meeting on Strengthening the Integration of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Considerations in the Agriculture Sector please contact Ronnie Brathwaite, Deputy Programme Manager, Agriculture Development Programme, CARICOM Secretariat, by email at ronnie.brathwaite@caricom.org

FAO Highlights Increased Drought in Caribbean

News Date: September 17 2016


Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a report on the impact of climate change on agriculture in the Caribbean region. The report found that the region is expected to see an increase in the intensity and frequency of droughts due to climate change. 

The Caribbean region includes seven of the world’s 36 water-stressed countries in the world. Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda are classified by the FAO as water-scarce because they have less than 1,000 m3 freshwater resources per capita.

According to the report, one of the main challenges is the low water availability, which affects the agriculture sector and the water resources. The region also experiences a large number of bush fires due to the drought-like conditions.

“Drought ranks as the single most common cause of severe food shortages in developing countries, so this is a key issue for Caribbean food security,” says Deep Ford, FAO Regional Coordinator in the Caribbean.

The FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva explains that extreme weather events can damage the agriculture sector in the island nations because they are becoming stronger and more frequent due to climate change. “In few places is the impact of climate change so evident as in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). For SIDS, climate change is not just an urgent issue. It is a question of survival,” says Graziano da Silva.

According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the region is vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change, even though it contributes less greenhouse gas emissions compared to other areas.

The Inter-American Development Bank says that climate change caused around US$136 billion in damages in the region between 1990 and 2008.

“This means that the Caribbean region can be taken back 20 to 30 years because of the issue of climate change,” says Juan M. Cheaz Pelaez, the senior program coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Climate events have led to social, economic, and environmental damage, according to Cheaz. Droughts can decrease the crop yields and productivity, and affect the health of poultry and livestock.   

A recent project by the University of the West Indies examined the impact of climate change on tomato and cocoa production in Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica. Researchers used crop-climate models for tomato and cocoa plants to determine the resilience of the crops to heat stress and droughts. The results of the community-level surveys showed that around 62 percent of farmers experienced a significant crop failure during the past ten years, and cocoa farmers indicated that the largest threat was drought in Trinidad and Tobago.  

According to Cheaz, a single climate event can affect the livelihoods of farmers. As a result, the agriculture sector should be resilient in order to deal with the impact of climate change. 

Governments should work to develop solutions designed to adapt to climate change, according to Jethro Greene, the chief coordinator of the Caribbean Farmers Network. Greene suggests that climate change will lead to an increase in severe climate events if countries do not develop policies to build resilient communities and promote sustainable agricultural practices in the region.

The report also highlights some of the issues related to drought management, which include limited funding, weak governance, and ineffective coordination of land management.

“These can be overcome by strong political will that encourages participation in policy and planning processes by all actors in the social strata, enabling the sustainable development of water supplies to face the upcoming challenges,” says Ford.  

News Source: Food Tank

Farmers learn sustainability in small farming

News Date: September 14 2016


Thanks to the collaboration of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and CARICOM with funding by the European Union, Dominican farmers are learning to be sustainable  build capacity for the sustainability of small farmers, youth and women in rural communities.

An agricultural policy program titled the‘Traditional Knowledge and Innovation Training for Sustainable and Resilient Small Farming Systems’ took place on September 13th in the community of La Plaine.

In attendance were organizations such as the Belles Farmers Cooperative, Dominica State College, Cochrane Farmers Group and Giraudel Farmers Group.

The agricultural policy program is multi-dimensional focusing on related enabling policies and institutional environment, appropriate researched technology and innovation and market development with a view to delivering benefits to small producers under these initiatives.

IICA Representative, Kent Coipel addressed the event and described the components of the program.

Component one focuses on policy and strategy, Component two focuses on applied research and Component three focuses on enterprise development.

CARICOM, CARDI and IICA respectively will execute these projects.

Dorian Etienne represented the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, CARDI.

“Over the years, agro producers have used a wide range of knowledge and practices which have been passed down through oral or written tradition. Somewhere along the line, we deviated and adopted other practices of producing crops and livestock. With climate variability and high input costs, we are being sent back to the drawing board to take a closer look at the traditional knowledge and practices that sustained our small producers.

“It is against this background that CARDI is seeking to improve the capacity of small farmers to build capacity and resilience.

Some of the topics covered at the training are: Sustainable Land Preparation Practices; Soil Health; Pest Management; Farm Waste Practices, and Climate Resilience.

News Source: GIS Dominica

Bakery officially launches cassava bread

News Date: September 09 2016


BARBADIAN CONSUMERS HAVE access to a bread option which includes local ingredients.

The Purity Wonder Blended Cassava Sandwich Bread was officially launched earlier today at Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St Michael with new branding, although it has been available on supermarket shelves since last November.

Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) representative Dr Cyril Roberts said Barbadians had become open to new and different tastes so it was important local food suppliers acknowledged that.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick said cassava was being pushed as both as a primary source of food and as a value added product in light of the “staggering” food import bill.

News Source: Nation Newspaper

Changes coming to Food Promotion Unit

News Date: September 10 2016


THE Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC) has been given a mandate to rebrand its Food Promotion Unit.
 
Word of this has come from Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick. Speaking yesterday morning at the launch of the Purity Bakeries’ Cassava Blended Bread at Sky Mall, he said this rebranding has become necessary given that the work currently being undertaken by that arm of the BADMC is not in fact food promotion, but rather agricultural product development and innovation. Given that, he disclosed the Unit will become the Agricultural Product Development and Innovation Centre.
 
“That is what they have done in producing all of these new value-added products from primary products… You can go back to when they developed pasta from cassava, when they developed vinegar from cassava and all the other products that would have been developed at the BADMC, but nobody knows about them. Nobody knows about them because it is not branded as a centre for innovation and product development, so those products can be picked up by our manufacturing sectors and via licensing arrangements or other branding arrangements to start to market those particular products,” he said.
 
Additionally, the Minister said that through this new Centre, persons will also get to know about the range of products made through the agri-preneurship programme. The young agriculturalists involved in that programme, he said, have successfully produced a large number of agricultural products including soaps, cosmetics and creams. His comments came as he said it is important that Barbadians understand that the world, not just Barbados, is their market and so it is important to create products and be innovative.
 
Chief Executive Officer of the BADMC, Shawn Tudor, told the media after the launch that the rebranding effort will take place shortly, and will allow the Corporation to position itself differently when it comes to manufacturers – being able to manufacture under licence and engage the private sector. During his earlier address, Tudor said the BADMC had invested hundreds of man-hours with respect to food science and marketing expertise to innovate and introduce five new, commercially viable, gluten-free convenience foods utilising cassava.
 
“These are all marketed under the Carmeta’s brand and include cassava cheesecake and sponge cake, as well as the cookies and sorbets… We remain committed to increasing consumer awareness and contributing to the cassava convenience food category here in Barbados through wider retail distribution and ongoing promotional support,” he said.
 
His comments came as he noted that BADMC’s Agribusiness and Agricultural Services Divisions have contributed human and infrastructural resources to the Cassava Value Chain Development Programme in several key areas, including facilitating 34 cassava farmers to securely and cost effectively supply 70 000 pounds of cassava to the bakery industry, which was processed into 22 000 pounds of grated cassava and cassava flour by BADMC. He added that the Corporation has joined Purity and other bakeries in assuring the price accessibility of cassava blended bread by subsidising some 37 per cent of the cost of grated cassava processing. 

News Source: Barbados Advocate

The Caribbean Is Running Out Of Coconuts

News Date: September 09 2016


At the worst possible time, the Caribbean is running short of one of its most emblematic products.

Rich-world consumers have never been keener on the coconut. Starbucks wants the tropical fruit’s milk for lattes, Rihanna promotes its water as a trendy sports drink, and the price of coconut oil has jumped more than 50 percent in the past year.

Coconuts for export to U.S. in Coco Siri’s warehouse in Nagua.
Coconuts for export to U.S. in Coco Siri’s warehouse in Nagua.

Photographer: Ezra Fieser/Bloomberg

The Caribbean is practically synonymous with the coconut, so its farmers should be cashing in. For a bunch of reasons, they aren’t. Storms, droughts and the Lethal Yellowing disease, spread by plant-hopping insects, have wiped out entire farms; growers have failed to invest in new trees, or fertilizers to improve yields. Caribbean plantations have shrunk by about 17 percent since 1994, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“It’s fair to say that at this pace, the Caribbean is running out of coconuts,” said Compton Paul, coordinator of a regional coconut program at the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute.

‘Too Early’

In Nagua on the Dominican Republic’s north coast, where Dioni Siri has his own trees and also buys from other farmers, production has dropped by about 60 percent in two decades, according to the local association of growers. Siri, who sells to export markets, says that quantity isn’t the only issue: many of the nuts that do get harvested aren’t up to scratch.

In his warehouse, he picks through a pile of the fruit, holding each one close to his ear and shaking it to see if it contains milk. When there’s no sound, the coconut is dumped on a growing pile of discards. “It was picked too early,” Siri says. “It’s not good enough. Our biggest problem is that the farmers aren’t growing enough quality coconuts.”

It’s a problem that nobody saw coming. Two decades ago, international demand was waning amid medical warnings that tropical oils could raise levels of artery-clogging cholesterol.
Coconuts sold for next to nothing in the Caribbean, where they’ve grown for five centuries since being introduced by Europeans traveling from the Indian Ocean. Often, they were just left to rot on their trees.

Today, coconut milk is being sold as a healthier alternative to cow’s milk, and it’s a staple of recipes in the paleo-friendly cookbooks adored by the CrossFit crowd. Even the fruit’s husks turn out to be useful, filling car-seat cushions.

Celebrity Investors

And most sought-after of all is the coconut’s water, rich in potassium and other electrolytes. It’s on track to become a $4 billion industry by 2019, according to Technavio, a research company.

All Market Inc., the industry pioneer which began selling leading brand Vita Coco in 2004, now cracks about 1.6 million nuts a day, and can claim Rihanna and actor Matthew McConaughey among its celebrity investors. The company estimates that the U.S. market alone is already worth $1.2 billion, according to spokesman Arthur Gallego. “We’re focused on developing new products around the coconut,” he said. “We want to be to the coconut what Dole is to the pineapple.”

With buyers so eager, Vilma Da Silva and her husband gave up growing other cash crops on their 35-acre farm in Guyana’s Pomeroon region five years ago, and starting focusing on coconuts-for-water exports. They buy coconuts from about 60 other small farms, bottle the water and export it, receiving about $1.50 per liter. It’s been lucrative -- revenue has doubled since they made the switch -- but they’re running into supply constraints. 
“We want to get into more international markets and export more but there aren’t enough farms to buy from,”’ Da Silva said.

Other countries are stepping in to meet demand. Worldwide, farmers have increased the amount of land planted with coconuts by 14 percent since 1994, according to the UN. Indonesia, the Philippines and India are the top producers.

‘Start Planting’

Meanwhile, with export-oriented Caribbean farmers like Siri and Da Silva buying up all the fruit they can, locals risk losing out. Typically, green coconuts for water have been so plentiful and cheap that any thirsty islander might buy one on the street corner, from a machete-wielding salesman who’d lop off the top and insert a straw. They still do -- but prices are rising, while grocery shelves are filling up with thinned-out or even fake versions. Trinidad & Tobago’s Health Ministry in May confiscated bottles labeled as coconut water from stores, saying they contained only water and chemicals.

 

Dioni Siri
Dioni Siri - Photographer: Ezra Fieser/Bloomberg

It’s not the first time a developing-country staple has been caught up in a first-world food trend. Farmers that grow the finest coffees often can’t afford a bag of their roasted beans. And when protein-rich quinoa caught fire in the U.S., many consumers in Bolivia, one of the biggest producers, were priced out.

Melvin Bautista owns Coco Express del Caribe, one of the leading domestic coconut-water brands in the Dominican Republic. He says he can barely obtain the supplies he needs, as farmers sell to exporters instead, and has raised prices for a 16-ounce bottle by 20 percent this year, to about $1.50. Local farms are mostly “in very bad shape and the trees are very old.”

There’s only one solution, Bautista says: “Start planting more coconuts.”

News Source: Bloomberg

Regional Agriculture Projects - Moving past ‘painful’ to ‘progressive’ collaboration

News Date: September 07 2016


Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, September 2016 – Discussing the proceedings of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for an agriculture project in the Caribbean probably sounds like a dry subject. It conjures up images of bureaucrats sitting around a table discussing policy and plans, hashing out process and determining progress.  Frankly, that pretty much sums up the TAC for the Agricultural Policy Programme (APP) which took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 11 and 12 August, 2016. However, if one considers the history of agriculture development projects in the Caribbean, this particular picture becomes quite exciting. It is not that the meetings and topics were unusual, but rather the mix of company.

The Caribbean has a long history of agriculture development projects. From the Regional Food and Nutrition Strategy in the 80s, to the Regional Transformation Programme in the 90s and the Jagdeo Initiative in the early 2000s, many attempts have been made to strengthen this industry which holds great potential for the Caribbean. However, it has been difficult to get the most out of these initiatives without the involvement of every CARIFORUM country and representation from all interested parties in the Caribbean, from farmers and researchers, to private sector service providers, development agencies and governments.

The Caribbean action under the APP, which aims to reduce poverty and increase food and nutrition security in the Region through the support of smallholder agriculture, wanted to directly tackle this historical problem by bringing both countries and all interested agencies together.

“Despite some problems and hiccups, I am proud to say that the Caribbean has collaborated well in this effort. It is not normal,” said Jethro Greene, the Chief Coordinator for the Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN) in his closing comments at the TAC. “A few people had a vision for not just their own country. The only future we have is joint action. It is impossible for any country to think they can lead their own charge in agriculture and make it. We must work together.”

Mr. Greene’s comments were echoed by many others during the TAC proceedings including Dr. Inez Demon of the Centre for Agriculture Research in Suriname (CELOS). “This is a great sign of how far we have come,” she said. “I have struggled in getting CELOS to the table where there is usually only government officials. We are very, very grateful that we were able to play our part in the APP programme.”

Thirty-five participants from around the Caribbean were in attendance at the two-day meeting. Development agencies participating in the discussions included the CARICOM Secretariat (CCS), CARIFORUM, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Caribbean Exports,  the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Organization of Easter Caribbean States (OECS), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Research institutions were represented by the College of Arts Science and Technology, Jamaica (CAST), CELOS, the Dominican Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research (IDIAF) and the Faculties of Food and Agriculture, and Engineering from the University of West Indies (UWI).

The interests of small producers and enterprises were directly represented by organizations such as CAFAN, the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA), the Caribbean Agricultural Forum of Youth (CAFY) and the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP). Rounding out the attendees list were service providers whose presence in the value chain is irreplaceable, such as financiers, with representation from the Agricultural Development Bank of Triniad and Tobago.

Admittedly, the APP project hasn’t been without its challenges. When the project was signed in March 2013, the lead implementing partners and their collaborating agencies needed to establish trust and mutually beneficial relationships. Also, though direct beneficiary input was planned into the project it wasn’t necessarily factored into the project planning. While the need to engage beneficiaries in project design was well appreciated by the APP Implementing Partners,  the choice then, was to either get a project approved within the final weeks of 2010 or miss the opportunity entirely for having an APP.

On reflection, Vassel Stewart, president of CABA affirmed that “we should have involved the stakeholders in the planning stage. It may have given the project a different start. We could have had greater clarity, linking the objectives with specific projects.” Notwithstanding this, he readiliy  ackowledged that the project is showing great benefits. “The support we are getting is the most that my members have ever received”, he said. “It places us in a position that we can sustain ourselves”.

Collaboration has historically been difficult in the Caribbean and it took time to forge these relationships and launch brand new ties. These challenges almost brought the project to a halt in early 2015. However, project partners and key stakeholders rallied together to create a scaled-down work plan version of the APP (SDWP). Importantly, direct beneficiaries, such as  “CAFAN and CABA informed the SDWP and that made it work,” said Gregg Rawlins, the Representative in Trinidad & Tobago and Co-ordinator, Regional Integration Caribbean Region, IICA. “It is a shift from traditional approach. Here agencies have a more direct engagement with the beneficiaries themselves. It is about keeping our eyes on those we are seeking to support and help. Let’s hope this sets the framework for future regional programmes.”

Since then, work has been moving forward at a rapid speed and with good success. Juan Cheaz of the CTA agrees. “We have been able to gain a good pace and move on priorities in the Region by connecting agencies,” he said in his comments to the TAC.

Diana Francis, the IICA Officer-in-Charge for the APP Project Management Unit, is hopeful about these new and strengthened relationships. She sees the potential to take this model even further. “We need to find out who can help us outside of traditional agriculture circles,” she says. “We need to open up the pool of who we bring into the discussions.”

A good example of this is how the UWI Engineering Department became involved in the project. Ruel Ellis a Lecturer and Engineer in the UWI Faculty of Engineering , was asked to provide some casual feedback on project planning documents as part of the preparatory process for the SDWP. While reading about some of the project initiatives, his engineering mind came alive with ideas. The PMU invited him to put his suggestions forward.

Today, Dr. Ellis and his team have become an important part of the project, working on a protected agriculture initiative which uses environmentally friendly options for cooling greenhouses to an appropriate temperature. Dr. Ellis’ passion for and commitment to the project is palatable. “It was quite by accident that this relationship began,” he said, “but now that it is started I hope that it continues.”

As far as institutional collaboration goes, Dr. Ellis shared the experiences of this new engagement with the APP and what it took to get a formal agreement to work together on one activity under the CARDI-led component. He summed up this experience with an observation that there is a ‘‘painful history that prevents collaboration. If we can find out what the historical pain is and address it, we can bring everyone to the table and make progress for agriculture in the Caribbean.”

Indeed, there is still work to be done before the project comes to an end, and even though all involved acknowledged its rough start, those who have been engaged with the project are pleased with how much has been achieved under the SDWP version.  

Added to the tangible contributions made to the beneficiaries, at the closing of the TAC, there was an overall consensus that an attitude of collaboration may just be the greatest achievement of the APP to date. All agreed that the relationships that have been started must continue even when the project comes to an end. There is even a new sense of collective responsibility among an expanding stakeholder base, as well an expectation among the stakeholders, that given what was accomplished in such a short space of time through the scaled down plan, favourable consideration should be given to continuing the project.

 “We have fostered strong relationships with stakeholders,” said Gregg Rawlins in his closing statements. “We have had direct engagement with them and recognize that they all have an important contribution to make. We want to ensure that they have a voice in the way forward.”

APP Country Update - Belize

Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations looks to the future

News Date: September 07 2016


Port of Spain. September 7, 2016 - Leaders of the Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO) met at a two-day performance and planning workshop to discuss and critically assess the CNFO’s
performance since its formation almost 10 years ago. They were joined in this exercise by representatives from partner organisations the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM),
Fisheries Division, Trinidad and Tobago, Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI-CERMES) and Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).
 
The CNFO is a network of small-scale fisherfolk organisations operating in the CARICOM region, with its mission being to improve the quality of life for fisherfolk and develop a sustainable and profitable
industry through networking, representation and capacity building.
 
Up until June 28th, 2016, when the CNFO became a registered non-governmental organisation in Belize, the Organisation has been operating as an informal network. Among its achievements, the CNFO has
been able to develop strong partnerships with many regional and global fisheries and related entities, through which it has been able to mobilise resources for development of the Organisation and its
members, and influence the development of fisheries-related policies.
 
The Organisation is engaged as a partner in the delivery of a number of regional capacity building projects such as the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network and the Strengthening
Caribbean Fisherfolk to Participate in Governance projects. The CNFO has also been participating in various policy influencing fora such as the annual meetings of the CRFM’s Caribbean Fisheries Forum and
the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) Conference. It recently took part in the Sixth Global Symposium on Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries (GAF6), in August 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand.
 
One of the key outputs from the performance and planning workshop was the development of a CNFO Action Plan which addresses three priority areas identified during the assessment - governance and
management, advocacy and communication, and capacity building. ​CNFO representatives from Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago share their ideas during a working-group session to develop priority areas for an action plan.
 
Executive Director of the CRFM, Milton Haughton, noted that “the CNFO has come a long way and achieved a lot.” He encouraged the members of the Organisation to continue to be engaged in
addressing issues that are affecting the livelihoods of fisherfolk, highlighting in particular the importance of improving the standard of living of Caribbean fisherfolk especially in light of the foreseeable
challenges associated with climate change and variability.
 
The workshop, which was held at the Crews Inn Hotel and Yachting Centre, Chaguaramas Trinidad and Tobago, from August 25-26, 2016, was convened under the European Union funded
(€1,03m) Strengthening Caribbean Fisherfolk to Participate in Governance (SCFPG) project. The SCFPG project is targeting the CNFO and its member organisations in the CARICOM/CRFM countries
of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad
and Tobago and Turks and Caicos. The project is aimed at improving the contribution of the small-scale fisheries sector to food security in these countries through building the capacity of regional and national
fisherfolk organisation networks to participate in fisheries governance and management. It is being implemented by CANARI, working in partnership with UWI-CERMES, Panos Caribbean, CNFO and CRFM.
 
END
 
About CANARI: The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute is a regional, technical, non-profit organisation which has been working in the islands of the Caribbean for more than 20 years. Our
mission is to promote equitable participation and effective collaboration in managing natural resources critical to development. Our programmes focus on research, sharing and dissemination of lessons
learned, capacity building and fostering regional partnerships. 
 
For further information: Please see http://www.canari.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/CNFO-Performance-Workshop-Press-Release.pdf​ or contact Terrence Phillips at CANARI at terrence@canari.org or call: 1-868-626-6062

Roger Clarke honoured for commitment to agriculture

News Date: August 26 2016


Former agriculture minister Roger Clarke was remembered for his commitment to the sustainable development of the local and regional agriculture sectors, and the welfare of small farmers in particular, during Tuesday's launch of a scholarship in his memory, tenable at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Passley Gardens, Portland.

Valued at $250,000 the scholarship which is offered by the Caribbean Broilers Group of Companies will be awarded to an outstanding second-year student pursuing a bachelor's degree in agricultural science, with effect from next month.

Dr Keith Amiel, manager corporate affairs at Caribbean Broilers (Jamaica) Limited, used the launch event at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston to explain some of the reasons the company was committed to celebrating "the memory of a remarkable man".

"I recall the day when a poultry industry delegation, faced with impending extinction, walked into his office to complain that indiscriminate (and below cost) poultry imports were ruining us."

 

Safeguards reviewed

Clarke, he said, immediately called in his officers to review the possibility of imposing tariffs to safeguard the considerable investment of local operators and the many jobs that would be in jeopardy. After being properly informed, Clarke took action, as he saw necessary.

"In spite of protests from powerful sources, he insisted that the safeguards be put in place, thereby not only ensuring the survival of the Jamaican poultry industry but creating a stable environment on which we could continuously modernise and upgrade our operations to better serve our customers and countrymen.

And today, except for essentially neck and back, Jamaica is self sufficient in chicken," Dr Amiel explained.

News Source: The Gleaner

Massy Stores Meet with Massy Farmers in Annual Meeting

News Date: August 26 2016


Castries, Saint Lucia (August 25, 2016): Massy Stores (formerly CFL), held its Annual Registered Farmers’ Meeting on Wednesday August 24th, 2016 at the Union Orchid Gardens Conference Room under the theme “Massy Stores, committed to working with the farming community”.

As the largest purchaser of agricultural goods including produce, livestock, poultry and value added products, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the agricultural sector to the 100 strong farmers, government officials and stakeholders in attendance.

According to Guest Speaker and Director on the Board of Massy Stores Mr Gordon Charles, ‘As CFL then, and now as Massy Stores, over the past few decades, the company has taken further strides in an effort to strengthen the relationship with its dedicated partners, and as it continues to enhance its partnership under our newly rebranded name, it will continue to support our Massy Stores Farmers! As you all know, the agricultural sector is perhaps one of the most valued by Massy Stores and is in fact among the more critical for the island, so naturally we are proud to add value to its development anew!’

News Source: St. Lucia Times

St. Kitts and Nevis seeks to harmonize agricultural practices

News Date: August 22 2016


Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 22, 2016 (SKNIS):  Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Kitts and in Nevis will hold formal discussions as they seek to harmonize rules and practices in the agricultural fields. The first official meeting is slated for Tuesday, August 23 in Nevis.

Alistair Edwards, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, outlined the issues that will be discussed.
 
“Among the issues to be discussed to ensure that we have one unified position, is the issue to deal with the export of fish out of a country,” said the Permanent Secretary. “The other issues relate to the veterinary services on St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as the possible creation of a pork industry. We realize that pork is growing on both islands and we want St. Kitts and Nevis to speak with one voice especially where trade is concerned, particularly to do with the importation of pork, as well as the sale of fresh pork on the local market. We will also discuss the procedures and protocol of plant quarantine.”
 
Mr. Edwards said that local farmers have been clamoring for the Ministry of Agriculture to restrict imports of goods because of the increase production and a difficulty in selling their meats. He noted that the move will be difficult as trade matters will be impacted.
 
“The World Trade Organization (WTO), which St. Kitts and Nevis is a part of, forbids that in terms of its aims at free trade,” he said, while explaining that the only way to solve the issue is to create a pork industry. “We have to speak to famers from Newton Ground [in St. Kitts] to Indian Castle [in Nevis]. We have to take their numbers within the Federation, their farm families, their possible production, current production and projections for the future before we would even think about any sort of protection for trade.”
 
 

News Source: SKN Vibes

FAO head hails progress in agriculture

News Date: August 20 2016


Outgoing Sub-regional Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Dr Deep Ford, has said he is pleased with the work that his office has accomplished in Barbados and the region during his tenure. However he would like to see more 100 per cent homegrown food products being made and sold.

He made the comments recently during a farewell visit to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at her Culloden Road office.

Dr Ford listed the development of a “blended” bread, made with cassava flour and wheat flour by a local bakery, as one of the projects that his office was successful in implementing to encourage the use of locally-grown products. Adding that the bread could be found on a number of supermarket shelves, he noted that this was the first such venture that had reached such a level of success.

The Sub-regional Coordinator also pointed out that the FAO had similarly assisted in the development of a gluten-free cassava and carambola muffin which was currently being sold in a coffee shop at its four outlets islandwide.

“They have doubled their order; it’s gluten free and made with 100 percent domestic products…I feel that this can become a major part of breakfast,” he said.

News Source: Barbados Today

Fourth Webinar – Caribbean Climate Smart Agriculture Forum for Innovative Coordination

News Date: August 19 2016


The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Delegation in Guyana continues to execute its Flagship Project – Integrated Environmental Resilience and Risk Management for Agricultural Production with the execution of a Webinar entitled “Integrated Management of Water Resources for Climate Change Adaptation in Agriculture: Experiences from the Caribbean”. The Speakers were Dr. Kevon C. Rhiney, from the Department of Geography and Geology of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and Mr. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. This activity which was held on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 was the fourth session executed under IICA’s Resilience Project for the year 2016 and has been a part of a regional action involving other Caribbean territories of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, The Bahamas in addition to the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago which are representative countries under the Caribbean Climate-Smart Agriculture (CCSA) Forum.

The objectives of the Forum are as follows: – Raise awareness of best practices promoting and supporting Caribbean Climate Smart Agriculture – Provide a space for dialogue among the relevant actors to discuss Caribbean Climate Smart Agriculture However, the fourth webinar focused on strengthening institutional connections between climate change adaptation and water resources in agriculture, providing technical examples of adaptation strategies to climate change related to water resources and conservation in the Caribbean and provided the context for the necessary cooperation between agricultural, water and environmental sectors The webinar saw participation from key players in the agricultural sector among which were representatives from National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry of the University of Guyana (FAF/UoG), the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Hydro-Meteorological Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Representatives from the IICA Delegation in Guyana. The fifth and final webinar session for 2016 is scheduled for Tuesday, November 1.

51 young people graduate from agro-processing training

News Date: August 19 2016


Fifty-one (51) youths hailing from multiple regions across Guyana have now graduated from a four-day Agro-Processing Training Programme at the Mon Repos Campus of the Guyana School of Agriculture, East Coast Demerara.  The first batch comprised fifteen students while the second was made up of thirty six students, all of whom were resident at the School during the training.

The training was a joint effort between the Youth Empowerment Office of the Presidential Advisor, Mr. Aubrey Norton and the School of Agriculture, which only recently graduated its largest ever batch of 156 students at its fifty second annual graduation exercise.

Mr. Nizam Hassan, General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board and a former General Manager of the New Guyana Marketing Corporation, in delivering the main address to the youths, emphasised the need for budding entrepreneurs to do the crucial research which pertains to marketing new products and to develop a vision for their operation.  He urged the participants to capture the opportunities found in agro-processing.

The course centred on four thematic areas, namely, Food Safety and Quality, Preservation of Meats, Processing of Condiments and Fruit Preservation.  An impressive display of the items produced during this training was mounted.

Mr. Samuel Saul, Senior Economic Empowerment Officer within the Youth Empowerment Office, Ministry of the Presidency, also adverted to the additional training opportunities that will be offered to this batch of graduates to develop other capacities which will strengthen their ability to contribute to development through work.

Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Principal of the Guyana School of Agriculture urged the participants present to note that Guyana’s young people between the ages of 15-34 comprise some two hundred and fifty three thousand, all of whom aspire for decent work which allows for productive employment for income, security in the work place, social protection for females and better prospects for personal development.  Such opportunities, he noted, can be initiated by training.

The School sees this most recent training, along with its endeavours to place all of its graduates at places which can provide short-term attachment or employment, as one designed to reduce unemployment in Guyana’s Youth, which is documented to be very high in relation to Caribbean countries.

Present at this graduation ceremony too, were Mr. Brian Greenidge, the Chief Executive Officer of GSA, Mr. Ronald Austin, Ms. Adeti DeJesus, Ms. Fayon Marshall, all of the Youth Empowerment Office as well as Dr. Dexter Allen, Director of Administration, lecturers and students, all of GSA.

Agriculture Ministry Introduces Drones to Farmers

News Date: August 18 2016


The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, is collaborating with local company D&C Drones to revolutionise the agriculture sector through the introduction of drone technology.

On Tuesday (Aug. 16) the Ministry took the technology to farmers in Lowe River, Trelawny, to demonstrate its use and applicability.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, who observed the tests, said that the unmanned aerial vehicles are effective in addressing praedial larceny, assessing damage following natural disasters such as a flood or hurricane, and will better assist farmers to put measures in place to boost crop yield.

He said it is extremely difficult to get an accurate picture of damage to crops and livestock following a natural disaster, especially in remote areas.

“Once we have crop damage after a hurricane or flood we find that the estimates are usually never correct. Many of the extension officers can’t reach the areas where the damage is. With the drone we are able to go over and identify all the crops and all the animals that have been lost and bring back the picture within a day,” he pointed out.

He added that the drones can also give a better picture as to crop production, identify areas that might need irrigation, and also plants that may be lacking in nutrients.

“With this kind of technology we will be able to accurately tell the farmer what needs to be done with his various crops. We will now be looking at not only how we can increase production but also productivity. With this technology we are looking to see how we can bolster agriculture. The drone is going to make a big difference as far as us moving forward in agriculture,” he informed.

Senior Director of D&C Drones Nigel Davy, whose company is in negotiations with the Government for the use of the devices, said that drones can revolutionise agriculture in Jamaica.

News Source: JIS News

JHTA plans to support Ja’s agricultural industry more

News Date: August 18 2016


The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) says it will be encouraging its members to increase their support of the local agricultural industry.

"The JHTA is committed to supporting Jamaica's tourism industry in all aspects," said JHTA President Omar Robinson.

"It is one of the largest sectors that contribute to the overall success of our tourism product. The industry supplies approximately 65 per cent of all fruit and vegetables for most of our members."

He continued: "We want our farmers to be able to produce the food items required in the desired quantities, at the right quality and time, with world-class agricultural tools and continue to be an important driver of Jamaica's economy."

Robinson extended congratulations to Martin Zsifkovics, CEO of AUSTROJAM Ltd, a member company of the JHTA who won the 'Youth in Agriculture Award 2016'- Large Category at the recent staging of Denbigh, the region's largest agricultural showcase.

After winning the award, Zsifkovics said, "As the winner of this award from IICA (Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture) and the Ministry of Agriculture this year, I would like to make an impact on growing agriculture in Jamaica for the long term. To achieve this, all stakeholders have to work together to maintain the consistency and quality of products, while ensuring competitive prices in the best interest of our consumers."

"Agriculture worldwide is evolving in response to growing global populations and demand; we must keep abreast with worldwide industry trends if we want our industry to continue to be successful and contribute significantly to our national economic growth," said Robinson.

News Source: The Gleaner

Trelawny Northern MP accuses Hutchinson of political victimisation

News Date: August 18 2016


ALBERT TOWN, Trelawny — People’s National Party (PNP) Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern, Victor Wright, has accused J C Hutchinson, the minister without portfolio with responsibility for agriculture, of political victimisation.

Wright, who is an agronomist, claimed that Hutchinson did not extend an invitation to him for the meeting he had with community-based production and marketing organisations (PMOs) at the office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in North Trelawny last week.

“These PMOs are supposed to be farming groups, and let me tell you that a meeting was held in my constituency this past Friday and they didn’t invite me and they didn’t invite the JAS [Jamaica Agricultural Society] president,” Wright charged during an address at the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Trelawny Southern constituency conference at the Albert Town High School in the parish on Sunday.

“I don’t see where this new twist is coming from that you can keep a meeting to discuss sensitive matters and you are at that meeting telling farmers to vote out your MP because he is not there. He was not invited. I am saying Jamaica does not have a place for these kinds of politics,” he added.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Technicians to participate in 10-day US agriculture tour

News Date: August 18 2016


Two technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture will leave the island this weekend for the United States to participate in a 10-day study tour in a programme entitled: “Agriculture Production Water and Nutrient Management”.

Ika Fergus, extension officer in the southeast district, and Vanessa Prophet, research officer at Dunbars Agriculture Station will be visiting Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington DC.

National IICA Specialist Craig Thomas said the training programme will expose the technicians to new technologies that are offered in the United States.

“This study tour is organised by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), under the title Technology Advances in Agriculture Production, and they will be looking at various technologies such as agriculture precision, advances in water management and agriculture production, fertiliser and nutrient-use efficiency, among others,” Thomas said.

This study tour will allow participants to visit farmer’s cooperatives, the US Department of Agriculture, Monsanto, the Fertilizer Institute, research and education centres of major agricultural colleges and universities and many large and small scale farmers.

News Source: The Daily Observer

Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture Holds Beekeepers Town Meeting

News Date: August 17 2016


NASSAU, The Bahamas -- The Ministry of Agriculture & Marine Resources and the Department of Cooperative Development held a Beekeepers Town Meeting, August 16, 2016 at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IIAC) on Village Road to encourage its members to work together ‘like bees’ and build the Bahamian Beekeeping industry.

Judy Simmons, Department of Cooperative Development Acting Director of Societies for the Ministry, began by discussing the role of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Cooperatives in developing the industry. She emphasized the importance of working together, gathering funding, buying or building hives, buying beekeeping suits, and learning the culture of beekeeping.

Manuel Messina, Representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IIAC) spoke about the objectives of the Association of Caribbean Beekeepers' Organizations and the 8th Caribbean Beekeeping Congress to protect the ecosystem, specifically the food chain, by protecting the lives of bees.

Shacara Lightbourne, National Technical Specialist and IICA Representative, spoke about the organization's Beekeeping Training and Education Initiatives and Opportunities. She explained the many resources available to beekeepers through IICA to support the expansion of successful farms.

News Source: The Bahamas Weekly

Suriname looks to agriculture for socio-economic development

News Date: August 17 2016


PARAMAIRBO, Suriname, Aug 17, CMC – Suriname has identified enhancement of ecotourism, the establishment of rural women cooperatives and agricultural diversification as priority areas for the future socio-economic development of the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Delegation in Suriname has presented the results achieved in 2015 and the activities programmed for this year to stakeholders, partners and agencies in the agricultural and rural sector.

Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister Soeresh Algoe, said “through IICA’s support, the agricultural sector is looking forward to implementing the Sanitary and Phytosanitary agreement by enhancing our agricultural health and food safety system, strengthening Codex Alimentarius activities and developing value chains within the different agricultural subsectors to further enhance our agro food systems”.

He said IICA´s initiatives have also contributed to strengthening the business and associative capabilities of vulnerable groups, like women and youth.

“Youth interest and their involvement in agriculture is vital to the development of Suriname’s agricultural sector”, he added.

“Suriname has identified agriculture as a priority area and a driver for future development: with an abundance of agricultural land and favourable agro-ecological conditions, Suriname scores with noticeable opportunities for increased production and export”, said Algoe.

Some of the activities undertaken by the IICA Delegation in Suriname include the development of four Community Based Enterprise Centers in the District of Para through community–based enterprise training and the provision of computers, printers and furniture with funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

News Source: The Daily Observer

DNA Fingerprinting Can Boost Agriculture in Region

News Date: August 14 2016


Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, is underscoring the importance of DNA fingerprinting in ensuring the sustainability of the agriculture sector in the Caribbean and Latin America.

He said the “scientific architecture” is a useful method in verifying the herbal origins and medical uses of certain plants and in the identification of various plant species.

It is also valuable, he pointed out, because of its relevance to plant genomics, breeding and the preservation of biodiversity.

“I believe that Jamaica and the wider region are ready for this intervention and investment. We have the natural resources at our disposal,” the Minister said, noting that Jamaica is ranked fifth in the world in terms of biodiversity.

News Source: JIS News

Maintain consistency in quality, supply of eggs

News Date: August 13 2016


KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Amidst a campaign to encourage increased consumption of eggs, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda is urging players in the industry to ensure consistency in price and quality.

Addressing a breakfast meeting at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on Friday, Samuda said the sector must look at how best to sustain reliable output in order to maintain prices, which will allow better business planning.

He further noted that the hospitality sector being a major consumer is also an opportunity for the eggs producing industry, to expand and further maintain consistency.

From this relationship with the tourism sector, he said egg farmers could also expand enough to seek markets for regional export.

Samuda said there are approximately 600 large-scale egg farmers locally. He suggested that training by the Jamaica Egg Farmer’s Association (JEFA) be provided to all famers so as to ensure consistency in quality.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

PMOs to Play Major Role in the Distribution of Farm Resources

News Date: August 13 2016


The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is reorganising the distribution of resources, to ensure that genuine farmers are able to receive assistance whenever they need it.

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson during a tour of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices in Catherine Hall, St. James on Thursday, August 11.

He noted that while, Members of Parliament will continue to play their part in the distribution process, community-based organisations such as Production and Marketing Organisations (PMOs) will play a more integral role.

Minister Hutchinson said the new regime will give greater autonomy to PMOs, which will identify their members who are in need of assistance.

The organisation will also be responsible for providing marketing services for their members.

“Whether it’s a bag of fertilizer… or a machete, whatever it is (the PMO presidents will) write down the names and what they want , give it to the (RADA) parish manager and the parish manager sends that cheque and list to the farm store which, the PMO president identifies,” Mr Hutchinson explained.

Beneficiaries he said will only be able to access benefits through membership, and presentation of their government issued national identification cards.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Minister is urging young people to get involved in the agriculture sector.

“I am one who believes that whatever that young person wants to do with the fertilizer, I say to you as long as he is going out there to plant something that he can make money from give him the fertilizer, so that he can make the money,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

News Source: JIS News

CGL to team up with Tobago agro processors

News Date: August 13 2016


Caroni Green Limited (CGL) plans on assisting Tobago’s pepper sauce producers with raw material, CEO Sharma Lalla has said.

A team from the company recently met with representatives of the Tobago Agro Processors Association (TAPA) led by president Darilyn Smart and Bernard Mitchell, CEO of Eco-Industrial Development Company of Tobago (E-IDCOT).

“In presenting an overview of the Tobago agro-sector, Ms Smart indicated that Tobago’s predominantly small-scale agro-processing enterprises continue to face production problems on account of inadequate and inconsistent supply of raw materials,” he said.

“Ms Smart reiterated that unreliable raw material supplies was one of the major constraints to reliable production flows experienced by agro-processors in Tobago. Processors claim that there is not enough raw material produced locally for processing at competitive prices. She added that local agro-processing also suffers from saturation of the available local market which results in far too limited market options. 

Guyana to benefit from project funded by IICA

News Date: August 12 2016


GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Aug 12, CMC -Guyana is set to become the first Caribbean country to be a part of the Competitive Fund for Technical Cooperation (FonTc) Bio-inputs Agricultural Project, funded by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The project is aimed at developing the institutional framework for commercial bio-inputs for agricultural use. It will see collaboration among Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Guyana.
IICA’s Representative in Guyana, Wilmot Garnett, speaking at the launch of the initiative on Thursday, said “the search for sustainable systems of agricultural production that are resilient, efficient and able to mitigate adverse environmental impacts caused by climate change require the use of technological packages involving the use of inputs of biological and chemical origin which must be used to specification to ensure agricultural, human, animal and environmental health.”

Acknowledging the importance of the use of standards and protocols for evaluation, registration and post- registration of bio-inputs, the IICA representative said, “establishment of appropriate institutional structures are essential to support agricultural input, suppliers that want to market in a country chemical or biological products, after obtaining registration with the respective competent authorities”.

News Source: Daily Express

BAS in foul mood over imported poultry

News Date: August 11 2016


The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) today called for a virtual ban on the importation of poultry products at this time, saying local producers were able to supply the market.

The BAS has been up in arms in recent weeks over the importation of chicken wings, which the body said was to the detriment of local farmers.

Addressing a news conference this afternoon, Chief Executive Officer James Paul said production was on course to exceed 10 million birds this year, and there was no reason to allow traders to import any more.

“This is the second straight year that we are seeing those types of levels of production. And in the face of that, how could we as a country in good conscience, issue any import licence to any importer who seeks to bring in commodities that compete with local producers after they have made a determined effort to increase local production? The reason being that they are looking to satisfy the local Barbadian market,” Paul said, stressing that the industry employed close to 2,000 people directly and indirectly.

News Source: Barbados Today

Cassava raid

News Date: August 11 2016



CROP THIEVES are at it again.

This time they have hit the Government-run farm at the Ministry of Agriculture in Graeme Hall, Christ Church, getting away with a bounty of specially grown cassava in the wee hours, stretching over the weekend and Tuesday.

This latest spate of crop theft has left the ministry reeling from what Permanent Secretary Esworth Reid deemed the destruction of the Barbados economy.

“This (theft) is mashing up the economy of Barbados. There are hundreds of pounds that were actually pulled. Two days before, the same thing happened on the other side of the ministry. So the ministry was hit two times within three days,” Reid said during an interview with the DAILY NATION yesterday.- See more at: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/84363/cassava-raid#sthash.bfjXeWcz.dpuf
 

News Source: Nation News

Biche and Cushe, the newest T&T chocolate bar on the shelves

News Date: August 17 2016


A new indigenous chocolate bar is about to hit the shelves.

Biche and Cushe is the product of the Biche community and the latest in efforts to turn Trinidad and Tobago into a viable chocolate producer.

The product is the result of an ongoing project by the Alliance for Rural Communities (ARC) to develop chocolate manufacturing in rural communities across Trinidad and Tobago.

Gillian Goddard, the woman behind the project and producer of the Suneaters Organics and Machel Montano chocolate brands, said the project started two years ago in 2013 and the first community was Lopinot followed by Brasso Seco and Biche.

Brasso is the most active, she said, and was the first to develop a packaged product. The Brasso community has paid it forward, lending their assistance to training the Biche community to develop their own bars.

The Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness has been a key collaborator with the ARC, offering soft loans to assist communities to buy necessary equipment for the chocolate making process.

So far Biche has produced about 200 bars, most of which have been bought by the community.

Goddard said she saved a few to stock at stores such as Cascade Minimart and Arties Maraval where they already have a relationship.

“A relationship-based model is how every rational society functions, even though people are celebrating the product, it is the relationship that strengthens the product. The product is only the reflection of the relationships that are there. There are many communities that put relationships before product and that can make it difficult to in function in a product-oriented marketplace,” she said.

The Biche and Cushe bar retails for around $20 and is described as having a rich chocolaty tone.

“The bean is rich. It is a full bodied chocolate with mild fruity undertones, very delicious about 70 percent, “said Goddard.

In congratulating the community for its new product, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat thanked Goddard and her team, Machel Montano and team, and Courts.

In July, Courts (Unicomer) in collaboration with the Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness and ARC, launched a Cocoa Community Project to train and develop financially independent community-owned rural businesses in the production of chocolate.

The first three communities to receive their funding were Brasso Seco, Grand Riviere and Biche/Cushe areas.

News Source: Loop News

Expectant Mothers in Montego Bay Receive Weekly Supply of Milk

News Date: August 09 2016


Scores of expectant mothers, who attend the Type V Health Centre in Montego Bay, will receive a weekly supply of fresh cow’s milk from Island Dairies Limited.

They are the beneficiaries of a programme aimed at enhancing the health of pregnant women and that of their unborn babies.

It is being undertaken by the Jamaica Dairy Development Board (JDDB), an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with milk producers.

Under the project, expectant mothers from select antenatal clinics will receive three litres of milk per week for three months contributed by Seprod Group/Serge Island Dairies, Jamaica Beverages, Edwards Dairy, and Island Dairies Limited.

Similar donations will be made at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, and Cambridge Health Centre in St. James.

News Source: JIS News

Agriculture must be seen as a tool to tackle youth unemployment across Caribbean

News Date: August 06 2016


The push for more youths to join the agricultural sector resonated again yesterday when Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder made the pitch as he addressed the graduating class of 2016 of the Guyana School of Agriculture’s(GSA) 52nd prize giving exercise.

At the school at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara,  Minister Holder stated that,  “The youth unemployment rate across the Caribbean averages 25 percent while here in Guyana this rate has been hovering close to 40 percent. It is clear that we can turn to our agriculture sector for aid in tackling this problem. Additionally, for the industry to attain sustainability, it must address the aging farming population by promoting greater involvement of our youths in agriculture.”

The Minister told the 156 graduands that the Ministry of Agriculture has, and will continue to have, clear and compact focus on attracting young people into agriculture, through the GSA.

News Source: GINA

CTA director impressed with Denbigh

News Date: August 06 2016


Impressed with what he saw and heard over two days at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, Michael Hailu, director of the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), has challenged organisers to export the vast expertise in various sectors.

"I am very impressed with what I have seen and heard ... , about the determination of Jamaican farmers and the Government to transform the agricultural sector as an engine for food security, economic growth, and job creation, especially for young people.

"Jamaican farmers are leading the fight in the region to reverse the trend of high food imports, and the lessons should be shared with other countries in the Caribbean and elsewhere. CTA encourages exchange of lessons and experiences among farmers and entrepreneurs by supporting learning journeys and other forms of capacity building," Hailu declared during his address on Monday.

News Source: The Gleaner

Gov’t to Double Irrigated Lands

News Date: August 03 2016


Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced that the Government will be expanding the hectares of irrigated land available to the farming sector.

Mr. Holness, who was addressing yesterday’s (Aug.1) final day of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, said the 12,500 hectares already under irrigation will be doubled.

He noted that the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) will be tasked with the undertaking.

“We have secured a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and grant financing from the United Kingdom (UK) Caribbean Infrastructure Programme, which will have an impact,” he said.

He informed that work in this regard has already started in Essex Valley in St. Elizabeth.

“We are going to do a water project there, which will have an impact on 3,000 farmers,” the Prime Minister said.

Transport and Mining Minister, and Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon, Hon. Mike Henry in his remarks, said that abandoned lands must be put into productive use.

He congratulated the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) for its continued stewardship and dedication to agriculture. He urged the entity to facilitate the establishment of a science park to train students in agriculture and to undertake research for the benefit of the sector.

Mr. Henry told patrons that “trains will return to bring you to Denbigh in the near future”.

Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and the European Union (EU), Michael Hailu, said he was impressed with the quality of produce and livestock on display at Denbigh.

He also commended the Government’s support for agriculture in Jamaica.

For his part, JAS President, Norman Grant declared the 64th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural Show an “overwhelming” success.

Mr. Grant noted that there were nearly 100,000 patrons over the three-day staging of the event, with a 20 per cent increase in attendance for the first day when compared to last year.

He also declared the ‘Grow What We Eat…Eat What We Grow’ campaign as impactful in saving the country over US$500,000 in food imports since its launch in November 2003.

The JAS President pledged to continue to work with the Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry to expand the campaign.

On the final day of the event, the Prime Minister observed several booths including those of the Ebony HEART Academy, Delta Supply and HiPro.

News Source: JIS News

Climate Change Threatens The Basis Of Food Security In Latin America And The Caribbean: Agriculture

News Date: August 03 2016


The study was presented today at the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, as a key input to incorporate climate change management in the Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger eradication of CELAC 2025.

According to the three agencies, the agricultural sector is the most affected by climate change, which is essential when considering that it contributes 5% of regional GDP, 23% of regional exports and employs 16% of the economically active population.

"With a structural change in the patterns of production and consumption and a big environmental push, Latin America and the Caribbean can achieve the second objective of the Sustainable Development Goals, ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition while promoting sustainable agriculture, "said Antonio Prado, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), while introducing the report in the Dominican Republic.

According to Prado, the Food Security Plan of CELAC and the new Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development will be two fundamental pillars for this process.

The report by the three agencies highlights that climate change will affect crop yields, impact local economies and jeopardize food security in Northeast Brazil, part of the Andean region and Central America.

News Source: The Barnacle

Putting More Affordable, Local Food On The Plates Of Caribbean Residents

News Date:



Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, July 21st, 2016 – Stop at any roadside market in the Caribbean and you’re likely to be able to buy fresh mutton and goat meat. Despite the fact that CARICOM producers have difficultly competing with the price of imported products, they have no trouble selling their meat at these markets. Most Caribbean residents know that fresh, local meat makes a much better meal.

However, if you stop at your neighborhood grocery store, you may have trouble finding meat from local sheep and goat (small ruminants). There is a high demand for these products in the Caribbean, and Regional producers can only meet 25% of that demand. According to a CARDI report on “ The Small Ruminant Industry in CARICOM countries” (2013), the Region imports 75% of small ruminant products from countries like New Zealand and Australia.
 

Farm Up Jamaica Helping to Boost Local Agriculture

News Date: August 03 2016


Members of the Jamaican diaspora are increasing their contribution to the national growth agenda through Farm Up Jamaica Limited (FUJL).

A non-profit organisation, established in 2013, FUJL assists local farmers in the cultivation of organic produce.

The objective is to reduce the importation of conventional, inorganic and genetically modified (GMO) foods; increase the export of organic, niche produce; create numerous green jobs; and revitalise dormant farming communities.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Executive Director of FUJL, Neil Curtis, said that the programme is intended to have an impact on the growth of agriculture in Jamaica.

Among the initiatives under the FUJL is the Farmer Assistance programme, which aids in the sustainable cultivation of vacant and underfarmed lands.  Farmers are provided with organic farming technical assistance, equipment, seeds and workforce to grow and harvest crops, and access to the necessary markets.

This programme helps to spread environmentally conscious practices among small holder farmers and students, make nutritious food affordable and easily accessible, create self-reliant, working communities, and bolster local economies.

News Source: JIS News

Gov’t pursuing organic agriculture

News Date: August 01 2016


The Government is pursuing the development of organic agriculture as part of the economic growth agenda.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries minister Karl Samuda, speaking at the official opening of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in May Pen, Clarendon, on Saturday said they are “serious about it” and “will be extending ourselves fully in that area”.

In noting that organically grown produce fetched high prices, Samuda contended that “it would be in Jamaica’s best interest to go into that area”.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation notes that organic agriculture relies on ecosystem management rather than inputs such as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and genetically modified seeds and additives.

It points out that the latter inputs are replaced with site-specific practices that maintain and enhance long-term soil fertility while preventing the onset of pests and diseases.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Agriculture will grow the economy, says Samuda

News Date: July 31 2016


KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Karl Samuda says the agricultural sector will grow the economy.

“This is the ministry that is going to increase the level of growth in the country,” said Samuda while addressing patrons at the 64th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon yesterday.

Samuda told patrons that domestic crop production grew by over 13 per cent in the April to June quarter of 2016 and continued growth is expected through out the year.

He said the government’s target of 5 per cent growth per annum in the next four years is modest as the agricultural sector alone is projected to contribute 2 of the 5 per cent increase projected.

The agriculture minister pledged to dramatically improve infrastructure in the sector through the provision of irrigation systems, a rotating equipment pool and upgraded farm roads.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Youth in Agriculture Village at Denbigh

News Date: July 29 2016


The Youth in Agriculture (YIA) village, to be set up at this year’s Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, will focus on entrepreneurship among young farmers.

The village, themed ‘My Dream: Agripreneurship’, is an added feature at this year’s show, which will be held on the Denbigh Showgrounds in May Pen, Clarendon, from July 30 to August 1.

An initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YAP) is being spearheaded by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs to increase young people’s involvement in agriculture.

In an interview with JIS News, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake, said the entrepreneurship focus came out of the 4-H Clubs’ observation of the high level of unemployment among youth in the country.

He noted that there will be competitions to reinforce the theme, with persons between 17 and 25 years of age from high schools, tertiary institutions and the community taking part.

Dr. Blake said in addition to visits to the booths, the young people will compete in designing products that will enhance the agricultural sector, through technology.

The competitions include creating a mobile app, business plan/model, jingles; budding and grafting; cattle judging, a social media agri-promotion; and an agri-processing/nutraceutical contest.

News Source: JIS News

Gov’t to Increase Protection of Fishing Territory

News Date: July 28 2016


Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government intends to do more to safeguard the country’s territorial waters against poaching.

He noted that Jamaica loses approximately US$10 million annually due to illegal fishing. He said the fishing jurisdiction is an important zone that, if properly protected and tapped into, can contribute significantly to the country’s growth and development.

“The economic space that is under Jamaican jurisdiction is 25 times the size of our landmass. There is significant economic value within that zone which we have not tapped fully,” Mr. Holness pointed out.

He was speaking to reporters following a tour of Rainforest Seafoods facility on Slipe Road in Kingston on July 27.

The Prime Minister said that securing the country’s natural resources will enable companies like Rainforest Seafoods to thrive.

He charged Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rainforest Seafoods, Brian Jardim, to develop new products and to increase the number of persons employed.

He further commended the company’s outreach programmes and its contributions to the local economy.

Mr. Jardim, in his remarks, said plans are in place to expand the Montego Bay operations, which will result in over 100 persons being employed, and development of a port docking facility.

“We are [also] building a plant in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is significant to us as a supply source and as a market,” Mr. Jardim said.

For his part, President of the Jamaica Manufacturing Association (JMA) Metry Seaga, congratulated Rainforest Seafoods on the expansion of its facility and the company’s commitment to the Jamaican economy.

He also lauded the entity for supporting smaller manufacturers and members of the fishing community.

President of the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA), Michelle Chong, hailed the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-certified facility as an example of a company with high-quality manufacturing standards.

Rainforest Seafoods is the Caribbean’s largest supplier of premium quality fish and seafood to domestic and foreign markets.

During the tour, the Prime Minister observed harvesting and packaging of fish and shellfish and got a first-hand look at Rainforest’s investments in solar energy, renewable energy and expansion of its plant.

News Source: JIS News

New plant varieties could revitalise coconut industry in Grenada

News Date: July 27 2016



ST GEORGE’S – With support from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), 1500 Lethal Yellowing resistant coconut plantlets from Mexico have been added to Grenada’s coconut stock, as the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) continues its coconut resuscitation program.

The high yielding varieties were obtained through the efforts of the Institute, acting on a request by the MOA and with collaboration from the Government of Mexico.

As part of this initiative, technical staff and extension officers have received training in proper management of the plantlets, and 40 selected coconut farmers will also be trained in coconut agronomy and in how to take care of the plants. They will be expected to multiply the new varieties, which will then be available to the rest of the population.

According to Derek Charles, national specialist at the IICA Delegation in Grenada, the idea of this action is to create the basic public and private capacity to rehabilitate the coconut industry by 2018, and to have access to improved, early-bearing cultivars that are high yielding, disease resistant, and of good tasting quality.

In Grenada most of the livelihood of rural communities depended on the coconut industry prior to the hurricanes. However, following the major Hurricanes of Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005 respectively, as well as disease and pest infestation, Grenada’s coconut industry was at its lowest level with production reduced by as much as one half.

Chief agricultural officer, Daniel Lewis, said the high-yielding plants would positively affect the coconut sector in a significant way by boosting the production of coconuts for the fresh market, as well as for the agro-processed markets.

Coconut is a main ingredient in Grenada's national dish

News Source: Nation News

Rambharat wants more money for agriculture

News Date: July 27 2016


Determined to improve support for agriculture in rural communities, Minister of AgricultureClarence Rambharat yesterday said he will be asking for increased funding in the 2016/2017 Budget.

He did not give a specific figure but said: “Whatever we get, it will be utilised in a way that improves what we do for farmers and fishermen.”

Rambharat, who spoke to the T&T Guardian on the sidelines of a Regional Consultation on Traditional Farmer Knowledge and Innovative Practices at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, said he is not satisfied with the resources available to rural farming communities.

“Rural communities are serviced by agriculture offices. We don’t have all the technical capacity and we don’t have all the administrative capacity in terms of decision making. The priority is to first improve physical conditions by putting more resources, then improving the human resource we have in those offices,” he said

Rambharat, who had earlier delivered the feature address at the event, importing raw materials to boost local food production is much cheaper than importing produce which farmers can grow here.

“Government is committed to ensuring that the pesticides and herbicides that are imported are affordable to the farmers. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring that those that have been declared to be dangerous and are still allowed into T&T are in fact banned. We have programmes in place to ensure reduced use of pesticides and herbicides. We understand farmers would want to use chemicals but we have to use it in a safe way.”

News Source: T&T Guardian

Multi-purpose Packhouses Officially Opened

News Date: July 27 2016


A better quality of fresh produce is expected to be exported now that two multi-purpose packhouses are operational.

A ceremony was held on Friday, July 22nd to officially open DEXIA’s two multi-purpose packhouses.

One packhouse is located in Longhouse, Portsmouth and the other is in Goodwill, Roseau.

The multi-purpose packhouse is an initiative funded by the Government of Dominica, the National Authorizing Office of the European Union, and the CARICOM Development Fund.

The packhouses will be managed by the Dominica Export/Import Agency (DEXIA).

Other contributors are the Ministry of Agriculture, the Dominica Bureau of Standards, the Dominican Hucksters Association, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The then Hon Acting Prime Minister, Rayburn Blackmoore, emphasized that agriculture is a priority for Government, hence the reason for these investments. 

“The Dominica Labour Party Administration under the competent leadership of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is in fact dispelling the propaganda being brought forward by our distractors by officially opening these two facilities. There is a narrative that has been constantly crafted through the airwaves that this Labour Party administration does not invest enough in agriculture. This is not the truth. This facility, is a long time coming and it is good for the farmers of Dominica, the hucksters and it is goof for the agricultural sector.”

News Source: GIS Dominica

NCU to Offer Degree and Diploma Programmes in Agriculture

News Date: July 25 2016


The Northern Caribbean University (NCU) will be offering degree and diploma programmes in agriculture starting August 2016.

The announcement was made by Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences at NCU, Vincent Wright, during his address at the Farm Up Jamaica Limited (FUJL) press briefing held at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ Old Hope Road headquarters on July 19.

Dr. Wright said the programmes will include bachelor’s degrees in general agriculture, agronomy, and agribusiness; associate degree in agriculture; and a diploma in tropical agriculture.

He noted that the university’s decision to offer the advanced training was based on “years of requests” from farmers, students and other persons across central Jamaica.

Dr. Wright said there will be strong focus on the use of technology to boost productivity.

“There is a very strong Computer and Information Science Department at NCU and we will be using our technology programmes during teaching. Students will be able to enter information such as the amount of fertiliser, soil type, climatic conditions and cost benefit analysis formulas to enhance the outcomes,” he explained.

He said the hope is that students will be able to earn from the farms that will be set up as part of the courses.

“We are hoping that we will be able to provide jobs for students…through the planting and reaping of produce from the farms,” he informed.

Farm Up Jamaica is a non-profit project established by the Jamaican diaspora, to assist local farmers with cultivating organic produce.

The objective is to increase the country’s food exports while reducing the importation of inorganic and genetically modified (GMO) foods.

News Source: JIS News

Year in review - National Farm Queen 2015

News Date: July 22 2016


It's not your normal pageant; the focus isn't beauty of face or body. Instead, it highlights the often overlooked intellectual side of the agricultural sector. Established by the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) in 1963 with the main aim being to recognise women farmers, the National Farm Queen Competition continues to shine a light on the work of women in the field. Last year, Peta-Gaye Stewart from St Mary walked away with the National Farm Queen title. Stewart, reflecting on her reign said that the year has been a very impactful and fulfilling one as it has opened many doors for her.

"I was given the opportunity to visit the Delaware State University, so I'm really looking forward to that trip and to represent Jamaica very well," Stewart said.

Stewart gave commendations to Nutramix and the Jamaica Agricultural Society for affording her the opportunity of having a tremendous year and for unearthing and developing such a wonderful competition. She said, JAS partnering with Nutramix has really elevated the profile of the National Farm Queen competition, giving the competition much more publicity than it had before.

As her main prize, Stewart got a full scholarship to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) where she's currently a full-time student. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to complete her national project because of her involvement in school.

"I did not get to implement my project. It's called the Idle Hands, Idle Lands Initiative Empowering Youth Through Agriculture. Creating a rural reality."

Her project seeks to empower people through agriculture especially those who are unattached - not attending an institution or working.

News Source: The Gleaner

Hutchinson defends $300,000 agri spend

News Date: July 22 2016


William J.C. Hutchinson, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Fisheries and Agriculture, is defending his personal decision to use some $300,000 worth of taxpayers' money to date to clear farmland in North East St Elizabeth, owned by an overseas company.

The member of parliament for North East St Elizabeth said, during a media briefing at the agriculture ministry's Hope Gardens head office, that the decision to provide the money to Farm Up Jamaica was consistent with government efforts to help in developing the local organic-farming sector.

"It is against this background that I am very happy to endorse the work that Farm Up Jamaica has been doing, not only to promote organic farming, but also to provide farmer assistance, identify market produce (and) assist with inputs, irrigation, equipment and training.

"What is significant is that this organisation was formed by concerned Jamaicans in the diaspora and internationals who have formed alliances with Jamaican food manufacturers worldwide to guarantee markets for crops both locally and internationally," Hutchinson said.

"Through their accomplishments to date, they have aptly demonstrated not just their commitment to this country, but the value of true partnerships in building this sector and this nation," he added, in response to questions about his decision to provide the money.

News Source: The Gleaner

Jamaica to resume mango exports to UK

News Date: July 22 2016


KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica is to resume exporting mangoes to the United Kingdom this year after voluntarily suspending exports in 2014 when there was a spike in detentions due to pest contamination.

In a release from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries a short while ago, chief technical director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence was quoted as saying that Jamaica would phase in mango exports to the UK by the end of the year.

Spence was speaking at a fresh produce forum organised by JAMPRO UK and the Fresh Produce Consortium in London, England earlier this week.

The forum brought sellers and regulators together for a better understanding of the UK’s phytosanitary requirements for plants and produce crossing its borders.

The UK regulators present at the forum commended Jamaica for the actions taken at the national level to improve the phytosanitary standards for mango exports.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries minister, Karl Samuda attended the forum to observe firsthand the exchanges between the regulators and buyers on the UK fresh produce market.

In closing the forum, Samuda noted that his ministry is moving towards global gap certification for access to additional markets in the UK.

“This is a necessary prerequisite to ensure that Jamaica can move from being considered a nation of samples to a nation of sustainable supply,” said Samuda.  

The minister also assured the UK buyers and regulators that under his watch, Jamaica was committed to improving its fresh and processed exports to the UK.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Banana Industry Rebounding in Several Parishes

News Date: July 22 2016


The banana industry is rebounding and generating employment in the parishes of St. James, Portland and St. Mary.

According to Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, strategies implemented by the Banana Board resulted in the production of 55,000 tonnes of the fruit in 2015, a three per cent increase over the previous year.

He said Jamaica earned US$160 million from export of the fruit, and in the last year it recorded a 51 per cent increase in bananas being sold in overseas markets, such as the Cayman Islands, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

“This highlights the need for Jamaican farmers to embrace the opportunity for even greater increase in production for export, based on market demand,” the Minister said.

He was delivering the keynote address at a banana forum, held on July 20, at the All Island Banana Growers’ Association (AIBGA) farm supply outlet, in Trinity, St. Mary.

The event was held to hand over planting materials to banana farmers, and to extend infrastructural support valued at $53.5 million, under the Banana Export Expansion Programme (BEEP), supported by the European Union (EU).

News Source: JIS News

Gov’t targets agriculture production, marketing

News Date: July 20 2016


The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-Operatives has initiated a drive to impact spur production amoung farmers.

Hon. Ezechiel Joseph, Minister for Agriculture, has stated that the government is intent on collating all facets necessary for a conclusive outcome.

“We are committed to the agriculture sector including fisheries and forestry, and we now have added responsibility—physical development and natural resources (which includes water.) We are now working on implementing a program that we articulated before elections that will impact positively on rural folk.”

The Minister said there are key factors that, if implemented into the agricultural sector, would  yield positive results for agriculturalists.

“We believe that we can encourage farmers to get back into production, and what we are looking at is to implement policies that will create an environment that encourages production. One of the critical things is marketing. One would appreciate that marketing is critical in the agriculture sector, and you need to provide that safety net, so that when farmers are in production and they have harvested, they will be able to sell the produce and get a good return, which will encourage them to continue producing.”

The Minister defines the objectives of the ministry as ambitious but obtainable.

News Source: GIS News

Haiti - Agriculture : FAO promotes access to scientific knowledge in Haiti

News Date: July 20 2016


Since 2003, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has set up an online global search system on agriculture, called AGORA. Its main objective is to facilitate access for developing countries, to a wide range of documents in areas such as food, agriculture, environmental sciences, social sciences, among others. Haiti is one of five countries in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean to have access to it for free.

A total of 2,900 institutions from more than 100 countries, 6,100 magazines and 5,800 books are already online and available on AGORA. This global digital platform aims to facilitate and democratize access to documentation for students, teachers, researchers and institutions specialized in the fields of agriculture and life sciences.

Note that access to information in Haiti is a major problem to the development of the country. Both at the levels of public and private universities, research centers, the specialized agencies of the Haitian public administration, the availability and access to information represent a challenge and a shortfall. This makes it difficult to achieve further scientific research in crucial areas, which has the effect of inhibiting the processes of social change and development.

The possibility for Haiti to have free access to this great global system of online information n, will facilitate the process of learning, teaching and scientific research on vital issues for the country, while allowing it to enroll in the era of the knowledge society and information.

News Source: HaitiLibre

Gov’t Forging Partnership to Source Tools for Farmers

News Date: July 20 2016


The Government is seeking to forge a partnership with local entity Caribbean Cable Company (CCC), to source tools and equipment for small farmers.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, says harrows, ploughs and rotavators, which are used to prepare land for cultivation, are among the implements being sought.

Mr. Hutchinson indicated that acquiring these was “critical” to the administration’s undertaking to further advance the agricultural sector.

He made the disclosure while addressing a meeting with CCC representatives at the entity’s offices in Rodon’s Pen, Old Harbour, St. Catherine, on Tuesday, July 19.

The meeting was a follow-up to one he attended earlier this year during which he was shown samples of equipment supplied by CCC.

Mr. Hutchinson also expressed an interest in acquiring machines to process fruits and vegetables for incorporation in the national school-feeding programme, particularly at the early-childhood and primary levels.

Voicing concern about the quantity of these crops which go to waste annually, he indicated that “we want to get all the fruits and vegetables, process them and supply them to the schools, so we can get rid of the bag juice (being served to the children), which is not nutritious”.

Mr. Hutchinson said consideration would also be given to equipping schools with the machines, thereby enabling them to do their own processing.

Pointing out that he was “impressed” with what he saw during both meetings, the Minister expressed hope that an agreement can be reached with CCC to provide the equipment as soon as possible.

Wholesale Manager for CCC, Michael Thomas, told JIS News that while the company’s core business is manufacturing electrical wires and cables, “we are embarking on a new journey where we are getting agricultural implements (for) the market”.

“What we do is contingent on a number of things, including the response from the Jamaican community and, moreso, the Government. I hope that all of our plans will be good and we will achieve all of our goals,” he added.

Caribbean Cable Company, which commenced operations in 1968, was initially involved in supplying products from the United Kingdom, before being acquired by Cuban business interests.

News Source: JIS News

Stakeholders must work together to promote agriculture

News Date: July 20 2016



Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Esworth Reid, has called for the cooperation of all stakeholders in the agricultural industries to come together to see that the sector bears fruit. 
 
He made the point at the accountability seminar of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) yesterday.
 
Reid highlighted that while the Ministry he represents is constantly seeking to reposition the agricultural sector, the public sector cannot do it alone. Thus, he made mention of institutions such as IICA and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) that have shown great commitment by partnering with governmental entities in order to propel the work of agriculture across the region.
 
Moreover, Reid called on stakeholders to be more than mere onlookers in the process of development, but become actively involved by demonstrating similar commitment in every aspect to match that of IICA and CARDI.
 
He went on to say that they should adopt an international business attitude in their production, as agriculture is a major means of reducing the increasingly high food import bill.
 
For further development and sustainability, Reid explained that investment in research is crucial, especially since research is missing in Barbados at the micro and macro levels. Admitting, that the dearth in research might be due to financial constraints, Reid suggested that all stakeholders help to pay the cost because its benefits are far-reaching.  
 
Noting that the law too had to be involved, Reid stated that praedial larceny is an ongoing struggle that farmers face. He said that the consequences of this should result in more than a “slap on the wrist” and that punishment should include incarceration. 
 
By the same token, sectors such as the tourism industry also have to be involved, according to Reid. Acknowledging that the tourism industry is indirectly related to that of agriculture, Reid declared that in resisting the use of cheap imports and buying local, they can play a great role in reducing the food import bill. Furthermore, Reid explained that with the limited amount of foreign exchange left, importing goods will eventually become impossible in the long run.
 
To this end, Reid, while thanking all participating partners, assured that the Ministry is still cognisant of its obligations to the farming community and stated that they are still working to ensure that the sector is viable and sustainable.
 

News Source: The Barbados Advocate

Two-day training on plant disease diagnosis

News Date: July 19 2016


A two day training on Plant Disease Diagnosis was conducted in the Department of Food, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine from July 13 to 14 to agricultural extension officers of Trinidad and Tobago.
The training was organised under the auspices of The UWI-RDI (Research Development Impact) funded project on ‘Promoting Agriculturally Important Microorganisms to Address the Challenges in Food Safety and Food Security in the Caribbean”. The training was attended by 23 agricultural extension officers of Trinidad and Tobago representing seven counties [St George, St David, St Andrew, County Caroni, Nariva/Mayaro, St Patrick West, County Victoria] of North Regional Administration and South Regional Administration, Research Division Central Experiment Station, Extension Training and Information Services Division and Agricultural Division of Tobago.
During the training programme, the agricultural extension officers were trained to diagnose the various vegetable diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses based on the symptom expressed in roots, stems, vascular tissues, leaves and fruits.
Extensive training

They had hands on experience in identification of damping off in vegetable nurseries; Phytophthora collar rot and anthracnose in hot pepper; gummy stem blight in pumpkin and christophene; fungal and bacterial wilts in tomato; downy mildew and powdery mildew in cucurbits and okra; black mold in okra; cercospora leaf spot in cucurbits; rust and pod rot in bodi; bacterial leaf spot and leaf speck in tomato, hot pepper and lettuce. Further, the training has exposed the officers to identify the pathogens based on the existence of signs, microscopic observations, morphological characters and molecular techniques such as ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction).
Participants were trained to isolate and observe the pathogenic fungi and bacteria from the infected cucumber and tomato plants. Senator Avinash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries attended the closing ceremony of the two day training programme on July 14 to deliver the special address and present certificates of participation to the 23 officers who successfully completed the training programme. Singh emphasised the need for plant disease diagnosis by quoting the Plantwise programme’s data on the current loss in crop production due to plant pests and diseases.
He also said that for every one per cent reduction in crop pests and diseases, Plantwise programme has estimated that an extra 25 million people could be fed. He called for the further empowering of agricultural extension officers in the field of pest and disease control by training programmes that would effectively serve the farming community. Singh, himself a farmer, shared his own experience with serious occurrence of pest and disease problems in crops.
Dr Reynold Stone, head, Department of Food Production and Dr Wayne Ganpat, head, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, were present and congratulated the participants for successful completion of the training.
The training was facilitated by Dr Duraisamy Saravanakumar, senior lecture and AIMS Project Leader, UWI-RDI Fund, Department of Food Production, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, UWI, St Augustine campus.

Climate Change Could Destroy The Caribbean Economy

News Date: July 19 2016


For more than 38 years, farmer Jorge Rivera raised cattle in the small mountain municipality of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico. On his ranch, he had over 200 cows, mainly of the small, dairy producing Jersey breed. That was until last summer when the drought hit. With the rangeland grass withered, Jorge was forced to spend thousands of dollars on hundreds of kilos of cattle feed. He put buckets of water mixed with mineral salts in strategic points throughout the ranch. He also reached out to the government for assistance, but budget limitations, administrative orders pending approval and excessive protocol meant that help would not arrive in time. The drought ultimately claimed 14 of his cattle.

Unfortunately, Jorge is not the only one. He is one of more than 6.2 million people that were affected by the severe drought in the Caribbean.

A new report issued by the United Nations states that the effects caused by droughts in the Caribbean are expected to increase in intensity and frequency due to rapidly accelerating climate change.

Normally, when the region experiences drought-like events throughout the year, the consequences are offset by the following wet season. But projected increases in mean temperatures, evaporation and declines in annual rainfall means that the Caribbean is likely to experience more intense and frequent droughts, often impacting agriculture and water sources due to low water availability and a significant number of bush fires.

The Caribbean, already known to be a region vulnerable to climate-related hazards such as floods, hurricanes and storms, is also facing a weak economy. Poor national coordination, policy-making and strategic planning to deal effectively with drought issues have left the society’s must susceptible groups and sectors exposed. During 2015, the farming sector lost more than $1 million in crops as well as tens of thousands of dollars in livestock.

 

Drought History

Exacerbated by El Niño, a natural climatic phenomenon which causes a shift in global weather patterns, climate change and droughts have caused disastrous results for the Caribbean economy. In Guyana, the largest food producer in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the desperation for water led some farmers to pump saline water onto about 60 hectares of rice lands even though they knew the potentially grave long-term consequences of such actions.

Over the past decades, the Caribbean has experienced several droughts, particularly so in years with El Niño events. Notable periods were 1957, 1968, 1976-77, 1986-87, 1991, 1994, 1997-1998 and 2009-2010. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that, based on intensity, geographic extent and economic impact on agriculture, two of the most severe Caribbean droughts occurred in 1997-1998 and 2009-2010. During the latter period, Jamaica recorded the lowest precipitations since 1941, causing over $8m in agricultural losses.

It is estimated that, between 1970 and 2000, the Caribbean region suffered direct and indirect losses estimated between $700m and $3.3bn due to natural disasters associated with weather and climate events.

 

The Many Faces Of Drought

The 2009-2010 the dry season revealed the society’s most vulnerable groups and sectors. The drought had visible effects not only among farmers but also the poor, children, rural and indigenous communities, downstream users and the economically important tourism industry.

During the same time, the Caribbean, as well as the rest of the world, were still recuperating from major economic declines following the 2008 financial crisis. The drought threatened to push countries into further economic contraction. For instance, in Dominica, by March 2010, banana production had declined by 43%, compared to the previous year, causing greater problems in exports and foreign exchange.

 

An Opportunity To Take Action

The Caribbean accounts for seven of the world’s top 36 water-stressed countries. Barbados is in the top ten. Now that most of the effects of the most recent drought are over, the Caribbean community has an opportunity to adopt a holistic approach to addressing the concern. Many organisations have developed a regional framework for tackling the issue in a strategic way.

Earlier this year, St. Lucia announced a $20m investment that will guarantee its people a reliable source of water until 2033.

Where national coordination is failing, international organisations such as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have assisted in better ways. The entity announced that it would be contributing €13.9m to help the Caribbean cope with droughts effects in 2016. Out of the whole amount, Haiti received €12.2m, the Dominican Republic €1.1m, and the remaining €600,000 were allocated to Cuba.

But despite best intentions, the same programs that are eager to help the region have identified critical barriers. The FAO indicates that key barriers such as weak enabling environments in the areas of legislation and institutional frameworks, poor national coordination, lack of capacity at every level and poor access to financing sources constitute notable obstacles to achieving the necessary transformation.

Some barriers are at the individual level. Merlyn Compton, the hotel manager at Casa del Vega in St. Lucia, where more than 90% of the surface water has already dried up, has taken measures to survive the drought. Compton has opted for turning the guest’s room water off on some days, in an effort to save some water although, even though there is a drought, “guests are not sympathetic to that”.

News Source: The Market Mogul

Tourism, Agriculture ministries hosting October Coconut Festival

News Date: July 15 2016


Challenged, it seems, by a local, regional and international increase in demand for coconut and coconut products, the Ministry of Tourism has announced that it will hold the country’s inaugural Coconut Festival from October 16 to 23, 2016.

Director of Tourism Donald Sinclair told the Stabroek Business earlier this week that the event which will be staged in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is expected to attract local stakeholder interest as well as overseas private sector participation. Sinclair said the heightened global interest in coconut, coconut water and other byproducts had inevitably led in the direction of raising awareness of the coconut and the coconut value chain.

Guyana enjoys a limited trade in coconuts with the region, primarily the Dominican Republic. Local entrepreneurs also export coconut water to other territories in the region, chiefly Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, the country boasts a modest but growing coconut oil industry with product reportedly enjoying good sales in the Caribbean and beyond. Sinclair told Stabroek Business that Guyana was now seeking to take its coconut industry “to the next level.” The October event, he said, will also seek to develop an agro tourism portfolio equipped to play a focal role in advancing the regional programme for coconut development.

Sinclair said Coconut Awareness Week was “a national event with regional implications.” October 16, World Food Day, will also be used to launch a Caribbean Coconut Regional Development Programme. The overall event will comprise presentations, seminars, exhibitions, demonstrations, fashions displays, games, all related to promoting the coconut product.

Earlier this year, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in 2016 established the Caribbean Coconut Regional Development Programme with the participation of nine Caribbean countries, Guyana, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, St Lucia, Dominican Republic, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

According to the International Trade Centre website the thriving international demand for coconut water and its byproducts represents an important opening for the Caribbean which can improve economic development and poverty reduction.

The other major coconut growers in the region are expected to play a pivotal role in the events to mark Coconut Awareness Week.

News Source: Stabroek

WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Tonya making the most of green bananas

News Date: July 13 2016


IN A QUEST to expand her knowledge and create something new, Tonya Ifill jumped at the idea of applying for a scholarship to attend the Guyana School of Agriculture in 2014.

She pursued the one-year certificate in agro-processing and today she is running her own business, Carlesa’s Enterprise, making use of green bananas in producing flour and pasta.

Ifill said while in Guyana, she did a group project where she made sweet potato and brown rice flour, but she was not content to stop there.

Armed with the knowledge of how to make flours and pastas, Ifill returned to Barbados in June last year and researched the properties of green bananas to make the products.

Casting her mind back to how it all started, Ifill said she was one of four Barbadians to gain the scholarship to study in Guyana. Although she holds a diploma in agriculture from the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, she was looking for more to add to her repertoire. “I wanted something different to do. It was my intention to create something new that could be added to what we normally eat or how we normally eat a particular food,” she said.

She said people were already doing things with sweet potato, cassava and breadfruit, so she researched green bananas. Speaking of Carlesa’s Enterprise, Ifill said as part of the training in Guyana she learnt how to create and run her own business and the health and safety standards of production to go with it. Working from her St James home, Ifill, who was quick at developing her own product, launched it at Girlfriends Expo earlier this year.

Unfortunately, she did not get to attend BMEX recently due to the birth of her son, now six weeks old, and had been taking it a bit easy. However, in May, some of her products were featured at The Green Festival in Washington, DC.

Ifill said the response to the green banana products had been overwhelming because it was a healthy option. She is in the process of getting additional machinery that has greater capacity. Thanks to help from the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, she also is acquiring a large oven to accompany the mill to grind the bananas. She said the products were being embraced by Barbadians, and at times she had found it difficult to meet the demand. “I did not realise that it would have taken off so well, so quickly.” 

Ifill, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, said green banana flour was a nutrient-rich, easily digestible dehydrated powder enriched with high carbohydrates, starch, vitamins, proteins, minerals, crude fibre, zero fat and sugar.  While not ruling out the options of creating new products using green banana flour, Ifill said she would focus on developing other recipes and had been working with chef Sophia Husbands. “It is a new product and I just want people to get familiar with it, rather than putting too many things out there too soon,” she said. 

News Source: Nation Newspaper

100,000 Patrons Expected for Three-Day Denbigh Show

News Date: July 08 2016


More than 100,000 patrons are expected to attend the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show to be held from July 30 to August 1 in May Pen, Clarendon.

JAS President, Norman Grant, informed that some 250 exhibitors will showcase their produce over the three-day event.

Mr. Grant, who was addressing a JIS Think Tank, said that this year’s show will feature some new and exciting elements and improvements to traditional offerings.

The new features are the Denbigh Promotional Village and Champion Organic Farmer Competition.

The Promotional Village will facilitate small and medium-size companies that do not have the capacity to set up an exhibition area but have specific products they want to promote.

The village will be housed in an air-conditioned tent and participants will be required to make a contribution towards this display area. The village will be manned by a coordinator and team members.

“The layout will adopt a gallery format with displays, based on invitation only, and must be accompanied by literature and personnel for daily presentations about the products,” Mr. Grant said.

As it relates to the Champion Organic Farmer competition, the JAS President informed that this involves collaboration with the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Taskforce and the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement. It will be sponsored by the diaspora.

Gracekennedy Commended for Setting up Plant in Hounslow

News Date: July 08 2016


Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, has hailed the work being done by GraceKennedy at its agro-processing plant in Hounslow, St. Elizabeth.

Speaking to JIS News following a tour of the facility recently, Mr. Hutchinson said the work being done at the factory fits well with the Ministry’s plan to place more focus on the agro-processing or value-added aspect of agriculture.

He pointed out that the facility not only provides a ready market for farmers, but moves the products from the farm to the value chain.

Mr. Hutchinson said facilities such as the Grace agro-processing plant, which produces hot pepper and scallion mash as well as shredded packaged vegetables, form part of his new mantra for the agricultural sector.

“This fits perfectly into what I am saying all the time – grow what you eat, eat what you can, and can what you can’t. This is just what GraceKennedy is doing. Whatever they can’t export immediately, they can it and keep it until they have the market,” the Minister said.

He added that the agro-processing or value chain sector in St. Elizabeth is on the rise, citing the recent opening of the cassava flour factory in Elim.

The Minister said farmers now have the option of producing several crops for both facilities.

“We are now saying to farmers, go and produce. The market is here,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

Cassava: another promising industry in Guyana

News Date: July 05 2016


Do you know that cassava can be stored in the ground for several seasons? This, coupled with being one of the highest value calorie foods, makes cassava one of the ideal crops for food security.

This tropical root crop is a staple in Indigenous communities and is enjoyed by a wide cross section of Guyanese. While cassava is a common ingredient in soup and methem it could be used in the baking and poultry feed industries.

The National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) recently conducted studies which successfully proved that grated cassava could be incorporated in bread making and poultry feed. However, local cassava production needs to increase for this to become a reality.

As such, the Ministry of Agriculture through NAREI has been partnering with regional and international bodies to boost local cassava production. In 2014, the Regional Development Project geared towards increasing cassava production commenced. The project was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and implemented by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Guyana, Jamaica and Grenada were the beneficiaries of this pilot project.

News Source: Guyana Chronicle

YES focuses on agri-business

News Date: July 05 2016


BARBADOS - Create, innovate and make it happen!

This is the theme of this year’s Camp Enterprise put on by the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES), promoting agri-business.

The YES Manager, Selma Greene told Barbados TODAY the summer camp, which is now in its eighth year, also promotes self-employment as a viable career option.

However, the focus this year is on fostering an appreciation for agriculture and its contribution to socio-economic development. In this regard, YES is partnering with the Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) to expose campers to the various aspects of the sector.

Addressing this morning’s opening, Barbados’ IICA representative Ena Harvey said her agency was pleased to partner on the summer programme. She also told campers that there was a common misconception that agriculture was only about “dirt, sweat and bad smells”. However, she said it was more about business and money.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth Ruth Blackman pointed out that the job market was rapidly shrinking and that non-nationals were also vying for job opportunities.

News Source: Barbados Today

Jamaican Farms Aiming For 40% Of Onion Market

News Date: June 29 2016


Three years ago, Jamaica was producing just six per cent of the onions consumed locally. Now it's meeting 10-12 per cent of demand, but that's still around a quarter of the levels agriculture officials aim to reach.

The Ministry of Agriculture's onion development programme launched in 2013 has reaped "significant amounts" of the tuber mostly from farms in St Catherine and Clarendon, according to the ministry's director general, Don McGlashan.

For the next crop year, which kicks off in the fall, the target is 17 per cent. Three years after, the aim is to more than double the 2016-17 ratio.

"We want to ensure, if we do things right, that by 2020, we have 40 per cent of demand being supplied by local production," said McGlashan.

"If we reach there, we will be saving at least US$2 million in import substitution. We will be generating farm gate price of about $5 million and the involvement of about 300-400 farmers in the programme with seasonal employment for at least 2,000 workers," he said.

 

Improved Production

Approximately 10 million kilograms of onion is consumed annually in Jamaica, with nine million of that amount imported at a cost of US$4 million, the said agriculture ministry official.

While conceding that the agro park system did not supply most of the improved production, McGlashan said the crop could, in fact, be boosted with increased participation in that programme.

"To get the numbers where we want to go, we really need to get the agro parks more involved," he said.

News Source: Jamaica Gleaner

Opportunities in harvesting blackbelly sheep

News Date: June 28 2016


WE OFTEN SEE them frolicking around in green pastures and open spaces. Ranging in colour from light tan to dark mahogany red, with black facial stripes and legs, the Barbados Blackbelly sheep is a breed of domestic sheep indigenous to the island.

Known for its ability to shed its wool, its capacity to adapt to a wide variety of climates and terrain, high resistance to parasites, and docile nature, the Blackbelly sheep is often a talking point among local agriculturalists, as the general feeling is that not enough attention is being paid to this ovine breed.

Among those to hold this view is chief agricultural officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Lennox Chandler, who, during a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, was quick to point out that in the case of the Blackbelly sheep, “too much talk”, was taking place and not enough action.

“Just like cotton, we have not paid enough attention to the Barbados Blackbelly sheep.  People all over the world want it.  As a matter of fact, there are more Blackbelly sheep outside of Barbados than in Barbados. I remember years ago at the Sugar Cane Field Centre in Trinidad there were 1 000 Barbados Blackbelly sheep and at the time we only had 100. Again, we have to start thinking about how we want to develop this and we have to start harping on the linkages,” he underscored.

Stating that the local sheep was considered an expensive, gourmet meat, Chandler noted that it was nice in flavor and carried little fat.

“First off, you have an animal that produces four or five in one litter, but again I want to state that we have not paid enough attention to branding and marketing. You have New Zealand lamb which is 15 years in the fridge and doesn’t have the flavour like Blackbelly sheep.  So, again, we have to revisit and refocus on that little sheep which has a lot to offer.”

The leather from the sheep, which according to the agricultural officer is superior to any leather that one could get in any part of the world, is also supple, smooth and soft in texture.  He further stated that the leather, hooves and all the parts of the sheep could also be utilised to produce quality products.

“One of the things that we have ignored in this country is the development of so-called cottage industries.  We have not paid enough attention to these small or micro cottage industry people, who, all over the world, add to their respective economies. We have not paid attention to bringing people into these cottage industries and working with them. These are cottage industries that people could be working on,” Chandler stressed.

News Source: Nation Newspaper

IICA course explores sustainable soil management

News Date: June 28 2016


KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) — A senior official of the Inter- American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) says the use of organic matter to remediate degraded soils is part of plans by the international body to reverse the soil degradation trends in the Caribbean.

IICA has just concluded a course here for delegates from five Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries, including Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname and Guyana to help improve the quality of soils in the region.

The course here allowed the 40 participants from the private and public sectors to identify sustainable practices and technologies for soil management, agricultural productivity and climate change and learned how to implement remediation and reclamation processes in degraded land.

“The soil is the sustainer of life on this planet and it is our responsibility to sustainably manage the land and the soil. We owe it to our children and those behind us to ensure that land is in a better state than we found it.

“The use of organic matter to remediate degraded soils is part of our toolbox to reverse the soil degradation trends”, said the IICA representative in Haiti, Abimbola Abiola.

IICA said that soil degradation is a phenomenon that reduces the soil’s capability to provide sustainable environmental services.

“Human activities and impact of the climate affects its properties such as depth, organic matter content, pH, salinity and fertility. It also suffers alterations when subjected to exploitation, for instance, lands utilised for agriculture or mining with improper management practices.

“The use of unsustainable agricultural practices can cause erosion, sedimentation in rivers, exhaustion and degradation of water sources, loss of native vegetative cover and biodiversity, all of which represent higher vulnerability to climate change and a reduced capacity to produce agricultural commodities and services. This context explains the high importance of developing capacities on this matter,” IICA said.

News Source: Jamaica Observer

Ministry seeks to revive banana industry

News Date: June 23 2016


JAMAICA - The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will be working to ensure that the local banana industry returns to more prosperous days.

Chief Technical Director (CTD) in charge of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, says the Ministry will be collaborating with The Banana Board to achieve this objective.

According to Mr. Spence, both entities will intensify the expansion of production in the industry and implement strategies to resuscitate, control and eliminate diseases and to introduce new varieties.

“The successful expansion of the banana industry will be a win-win accomplishment not just for our small farmers, but for bigger investors and exporters and indeed for the economy of Jamaica,” said Mr. Spence.

He was speaking at an event to present the findings of the food consultancy specialist Mazie Miller on the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research  (HFIA) banana and plantain varieties.

Government has high hopes for new CFBC Agribusiness Management Programme

News Date: June 23 2016


Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 23, 2016 (SKNIS):  The Ministry of Education in St. Kitts has welcomed the launch of the Agriculture Business Competency-based Programme to be administered by the local Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Canada.

The course is geared towards candidates in the agriculture value chain who wish to market and distribute agricultural products and services locally, regionally and internationally. It offers a competency-based education programme, which will allow candidates to develop technical and theoretical skills to develop or grow their business by advancing innovation in products, processes, and business models.

At the programme launch on Tuesday (June 21), Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Ionie Liburd-Willett, extended commendation to Dalhousie University and other partners.
 
“This programme is of great significance as it is an opportunity to revitalize agriculture by becoming food self sufficient, create agrobusinesses and jobs, [and] change to healthier lifestyles with organic foods,” Mrs. Liburd-Willett said, adding that this translates into a lifestyle revolution of eat what you grow and grow what you eat. 
 
Participants that enter the programme must have good communication skills and experience working within the agricultural industry. The course covers: creating market opportunities, financial management and accounting, delivery of customer service, sales and marketing of agriculture products and services, pricing of products and services, human resource management and business plan development. 
 
“I’m pleased to note that prospective adult students who are already in the agricultural field are afforded the opportunity to access this programme through prior learning assessment and recognition,” the permanent secretary said. “They will not be left behind but will be positioned to make a difference in the development of our economy.”  
 
According to Andrew Abraham, Dean of the Technical, Vocational, Education and Management Studies (TVEMS) of the CFBC, the Agriculture Business Competency-based Programme is “the first of its kind in the Federation and the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region. The programme is described as a “rigorous, skills-based programme and participants will require high levels of motivation to be successful.”
  
The launch was attended by Hugh Heyliger, Director, Institutional Development, CFBC; Dr. Clare Bowen O’Connor, Programme Coordinator, CFBC; Jackie Ferracho Williams, Vice President of Finance and Administrative Affairs, CFBC; and Suzanne Johnson, Manager of International Projects, Dalhousie University.

News Source: SKN Vibes

Rice is Guyana’s major export to Brazil under preferential trade accord

News Date: June 23 2016


Rice has been making up the bulk of Guyana’s exports to Brazil under a preferential trade agreement mainly, the Foreign Relations Sectoral committee was told Thursday.

Briefing the committee under the chairmanship of opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic’s (PPP), Gail Teixeira, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Guyana, Carl Greenidge said since the Rupununi-based Santa Fe mega-farm, owned by Sir Kyffin Simpson and family of Barbados, began exporting rice to Brazil, that grain has been Guyana’s major export to the neighbouring South American country.

“The main factor contributing to that jump…in this case the increase in Guyana’s exports to Brazil seem to be accounted for by the exports by Simpson’s Santa Fe Farm as well as Guyana Rice Development Board and Pak and Sons exports of rice to Brazil,” Greenidge said.

Figures presented to the sectoral committee show that Guyana sold GYD$1.8 billion worth of rice to Brazil in 2015 and GYD$264 million up to June, 2016.

Trade Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sherwyn Naughton said that so far all of Guyana’s exports to Brazil for this year have been been rice, and of the GYD$1.881 billion worth of exports to Brazil in 2015, GYD$1.842 was for  rice. Naughton said other exports to Brazil included wheat, pasta, alcohol, bauxite, textiles and wooden furniture. “They are in very small quantities so rice has been the major export to the Brazilian market making up ninety percent or more of the exports,” he said.

News Source: Demarara Waves

Campbell Says Agricultural Science Should Be Mandatory In High Schools

News Date: June 23 2016


Opposition  Spokesman on Agriculture Dr Dayton Campbell says the government should make agricultural science a mandatory subject in high schools arguing that agriculture is more than just "tilling the soil".

According to Campbell, young Jamaicans should be taught to recognise that they can have lucrative  careers in the field.

Making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate, Campbell making the subject  mandatory would be one way of ensuring that young  Jamaicans "break the cycle of poverty".

The MP for the largely farming constituency of St Ann North West also said that agriculture is critical  to Jamaica's development given the number  employed in the sector.

The Jamaica Agricultural Society  has said there are more than 200,000 registered farmers with thousands more unregistered ones.

Capital investment in agriculture has declined over the years significantly affecting production.

The intensification of the climate change process and diversification issues have also been impacting the sector's growth.

News Source: Jamaica Gleaner

UN urges C’bean to prepare for increased drought

News Date: June 23 2016


UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — A new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has urged the Caribbean to boost efforts to prepare for increased drought, stating that climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of droughts in the region.

The report says countries in the region must enhance their capabilities to deal with this and other extreme weather-related challenges to ensure food security and hunger eradication.

The report, “Drought Characteristics and Management in the Caribbean” finds that the Caribbean faces significant challenges in terms of drought.

“Drought ranks as the single most common cause of severe food shortages in developing countries, so this is a key issue for Caribbean food security,” said Deep Ford, FAO Regional Coordinator in the Caribbean.

News Source: Jamaica Observer
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