Ambassador Irwin Larocque
Once again, it is my pleasure to welcome all participants to this year’s Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA). The theme of this year’s event – Strengthening Agriculture for a Healthier Future in the Region – speaks to the fundamental role of agriculture and food production in helping to support the “health and wellness” of our people. Our farmers and our agro-processors, both large and small, play an important role in this regard as well as in our thrust towards food security and must be supported in their efforts.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) places great store on promoting healthier lifestyles, and consuming nutritious food is essential to achieving this objective. For this reason, it is important that we continue to promote the production and consumption of our traditional foods and ensure that these foods are available in adequate quantities at affordable prices. We must also recognize that our increasingly urbanized populations require greater convenience in food preparation, and hence the important role to be played by our agro-processors and distributors in delivering the products in the form demanded by our consumers.
Unfortunately, I must also draw attention to the devastation to some of our production over the past year as a result of hurricanes. The destruction of agricultural capacity in Dominica has been particularly heartbreaking, on both a sectoral and human level.
As a Community, we are working to ensure that the Region develops the necessary resilience to natural disasters. In that respect, efforts are currently being made, in association with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to develop a Regional Emergency Response Strategy and Action Plan for the Agriculture Sector of the Caribbean, which will be rolled out this year.
The Caribbean Community values the contribution of its cooperating partners, including the FAO, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA). We also recognize the role of our own regional Institutions, including the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), all of which play a vital role in promoting the Region’s agricultural production, food security and nutritional resilience.
Together with these and other institutions, the CARICOM Secretariat coordinates a robust regional agricultural development and food security programme.
Finally, I wish to pay special tribute to the Government and People of Barbados for generously hosting CWA 2018 and welcoming us to their beautiful shores. The Government of Barbados and the private sector have supported the regional initiatives in agriculture and, more specifically, the cassava, small ruminants and the coconut value-chain development programmes.
CWA represents a great opportunity for stakeholders in the agricultural sector to interact with their counterparts from across the Region and, indeed, from other parts of the world, to showcase their products at the Trade Show and Exhibition and to mutually benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. I wish CWA 2018 every success and look forward to joining you and enjoying the week’s activities.