By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Due to its successful formula, other regions in the developing world, especially the Pacific region, could duplicate the format of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) which brought key stakeholders in the agricultural sector and policymakers together to discuss problems and find solutions.
“I think this is the only region where there is a specific week every year dedicated to bring the key stakeholders dealing with agriculture together. So we want to encourage other regions to do the same”, said Michael Hailu, director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CTA) in an invited comment.
He further noted that three ministers of agriculture from the Pacific islands were therefore invited to participate in the 12th Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Guyana.
“We wanted them to come here and see what is happening so that they can probably do the same back in their region, in the Pacific,” said the CTA official.
According to Hailu, through the years the CWA has in many ways contributed positively to advance the agricultural sector in the Caribbean and his agency remains committed to supporting this event. The CTA supported various activities including workshops and seminars regarding policy issues, youth engagement in agriculture, encouraging media to report more on agricultural stories and promoting the use of information and communication technology.
“We have encouraged most of these people to come together during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture to share their experience and make concrete recommendations to the ministers of agriculture,” said Hailu.
Most of CTA’s work is on the regional level. The agency works with regional institutions and organizations such as the Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN), CARDI and IICA.
“So most of our support -- although some activities are done on the national level -- is done through the regional organizations, because we want to encourage regional co-operation and regional programs. Largely we work with the regional organizations to reach the national needs,” the CTA director added.
Hailu further disclosed that due to the recent food price crisis there is currently a growing interest in agriculture worldwide and also in the Caribbean. In an effort to better cater for the needs and concerns of the Caribbean but also the Pacific region and Africa, the CTA is revamping its Strategic Plan 2011-2015. The organization is therefore focusing its efforts on three priority areas: strengthening regional policy processes that support agriculture development in ACP-countries; supporting priority value chain in ACP countries; and building capacity in knowledge management, especially in the use of information and communication technology.
“Farmers are a critical part of the CTA strategy in the way we plan our strategy. Therefore the regional and national farmers’ organizations are primary partners in this effort. Everything the CTA is doing is just to add value to what already is going on on the ground,” said the CTA’s top official.