I have learned a lot from senior policy-makers, scientists, farmers representatives and agricultural professionals. Above all, I have been encouraged by letters from front-line extension workers and development agents, who appreciate CTAs support for their work in ACP countries.
2010 was particularly important for CTA. We developed a Strategic Plan for the next 5 years, Empowering Rural ACP Communities through Knowledge. This will ensure that we focus on the critical issues facing agriculture and marshall our efforts through knowledge sharing, networking and capacity building.
Agriculture can indeed must play a pivotal role in helping nations and communities to increase their income, reduce poverty and tackle malnutrition. Three-quarters of the worlds poor people live in rural areas and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and survival. The world must increase food production by at least 70% to feed the projected population of 9 billion people by 2050, without damaging further the natural resource base on which agriculture depends.
Climate change and the depletion of natural resources pose additional challenges. ACP countries contribute little in the way of greenhouse gas emissions, yet are among the first to suffer the negative impacts of climate change. This is especially tough on smallholder farmers, with many already constrained by low access to capital, limited ability to influence policy and inadequate training.
But there is good news. Never before has there been such widespread agreement about agricultures importance for poverty alleviation and economic growth. Never has there been a better time to work in agricultural development.
CTA has a crucial role to play in improving the welfare and productivity of farming communities in ACP countries. As these highlights show, we are already helping to enrich knowledge, enhance communications and improve networking between those who have a stake in rural development.
Take our role at the 9th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (page 5). Among the four major events CTA organised was a regional policy briefing on the roles small and medium enterprises can play in improving Caribbean agriculture. Many attendees who came from the private sector had never attended such a forum before, where they could exchange ideas with policy-makers, farmers organisations, the media and scientists.
During 2010 we sought to raise the profile of young professionals and women in science. For example, CTA organised a competition with five African partners with the results announced during the 5th African Science Week
in July, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Partnerships lie at the heart
of our work. We collaborated successfully with the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency to hold a week-long series of events in Johannesburg, South Africa, including the CTA Annual Seminar on water and an Observatory on information and communication technologies (ICTs).
With agriculture firmly back on top of the global development agenda, CTA is well positioned to support ACP nations to achieve their food and nutritional security goals.