Media room

Caribbean Week of Agriculture kicks off

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 Oct 2013

October 5, 2013

Stakeholders in the regional agricultural sector have been encouraged to work together to change the reality of the food insecure segments of populations, debunk myths and reshape the perception of agriculture as a means to generate wealth.

The charges were delivered by the featured speakers at the opening session of a two-day media workshop on the state of journalism in the food and agriculture sector in the Caribbean at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) on Friday.

The workshop was the first activity of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) which will be officially opened in Georgetown on Wednesday 9 October, 2013. The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Association of Caribbean Media (ACM), are partnering to host the workshop.

The Dr the Honourable Leslie Ramsammy, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, Mr. Maurice Wilson of CARDI, Mr. Thierry Doudet of CTA and Mr. Wesley Gibbings, President of the ACM were of one accord on the attractiveness of the agriculture sector, the need to promote the sector, particularly as part of efforts to attract youth, and the linkages that existed between agriculture and other areas.

There were divergent views, however, on media coverage of agriculture in the Region, with Chair of the opening session, Mr. Gibbings, pointing to a "marked improvement of the depth and breadth of coverage of the sector over the years". On the other hand, Dr. Ramsammy, alluded to the development of media capacity and the media corps, but lamented "how we report on agriculture." For Mr. Wilson, the courtship between the media and the agriculture sector was not as good as expected. "We collectively must make agriculture the significant, important element in our lives that it is, and bring it to the attention of all the principals and stakeholders that matter. And therefore, we have to court the media once more and urge that they present agriculture in this sexy, attractive way, in which the whole story... and the connectivity and inter-sectoral significance of agriculture is told," he said.

In his remarks to the media representatives, the Minister stressed that the Region had the capacity to be the first hunger-free region in the world; that agriculture was critical to the area of health and nutrition, especially in confronting non communicable diseases; and called for more focused attention on agricultural research, particularly in the area of funding; the improvement of crops; and the introduction of new crops.

"We should be proud of the fact that this Region has the potential to be a hunger-free Region, to be one of the first regions in the world to be a hunger free. Yet we do have the scandalous situation where eight million people in our Region are living in food insecure states...," Minister Ramsammy said.

Among the subjects the workshop will address are the impact of climate change on food and nutrition security in the Caribbean; the contribution of the fisheries sector in food security and nutrition; youth and gender in agriculture and rural development; emerging issues in Caribbean agriculture; and the support that the media could provide to the sector.

The CWA, which will be held in Georgetown until 12 October, is being marketed as a great opportunity not only for pursuing food security but also for promoting agriculture as a business, modernising the sector, and creating and expanding networks. The premier agriculture event in the Caribbean Community's (CARICOM) calendar is being hosted by the Government of Guyana and will be convened this year under the theme `Linking the Caribbean for Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development'.