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Food security in focus at Week of Agriculture
Georgetown, Guyana—President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, ministers of agriculture from the Caribbean and representatives of the main technical assistance organisations working in the region inaugurated Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), an annual event held with the support of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Community Secretariat (Caricom). Senior agricultural officials met at the Guyana International Conference Centre in Georgetown to reach agreement on actions designed to improve food and nutrition security in the Caribbean, adaptation of agriculture to climate change, and integration of small-scale producers into markets, among other issues. Ramotar, noted that agriculture had an unparalleled opportunity to grow, because, with the global population set to reach nine billion by 2050, it would be up to the agricultural sector to meet the world’s needs—mainly food, but also energy.
Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, suggested that Caribbean countries had sufficient human and natural resources to produce more and better food, which would enable them to reduce their huge import bills. He added that more investment was required but, above all, the countries needed to work together to make agriculture a key element in the region’s future. The minister’s remarks were part of his address to a large group of agricultural students from Saint Kitts and Nevis who were invited to take part in the CWA. Director General of IICA, Víctor M Villalobos, emphasised the need to forge partnerships to achieve common objectives. He explained that some of the primary objectives of the Institute’s projects in the Caribbean, working in tandem with other organisations, were to improve food security and increase opportunities for smallholders to develop their operations.
The purpose of the CWA, the most important agricultural event in the Caribbean, is to draw attention to challenges facing the region’s agriculture and the opportunities for developing the sector, and to enable decision-makers and other stakeholders to engage in dialogue and agree on ways to promote the activity. The CWA also provides the backdrop to the meeting of the Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu (often referred to simply as “The Alliance”), comprised of representatives of the ministries of agriculture, the private sector, academia, and institutions such as IICA, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Cardi), among others. Alliance members shared experiences with regard to agricultural trade and the transportation of agricultural goods, discussed ways of meeting the local demand for fresh products, and received information about the possibilities of developing aquaculture in the Caribbean.