The advice was provided from the floor at a seminar titled 'Caribbean Agricultural Transformation: the Role of Family Farming'. It was the first activity of the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) now underway in Paramaribo, Suriname. Its aim was the promotion of dialogue and shared knowledge and experiences on family farming and its role in revitalizing agriculture and rural economy. A definition of the way forward on policy action on the transformation of agriculture through family farming is the expected outcome of the seminar.
His Excellency Soresh Algoe, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries of Suriname, gave the feature address at the opening of the seminar which was chaired by Ms. Desiree Field-Ridley, Officer-in-Charge of the Directorate of Trade and Economic Integration at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat. Presentations by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) focused on the role, challenges and new vision for family farming in the Region. Presentations were also made on best practices and lessons from Central America and Brazil.
Farmers and representatives of farming and agriculture organisations had their say during an interactive segment following the formal presentations. One farmer pointed to the competition family farmers faced from the use of the land for housing and industry. He added that sustainable land development had to be done in tandem with the production of food.
"Take care of the land and, as the saying goes, it will take care of you," he told participants at the seminar.
Another participant pointed to the case of Haiti where there were one million family farms with five million people benefitting directly from farming. There was no specific policy targeting family farming, he lamented, even as the country was totally dependent on those farmers for land management and sustainability.
Caribbean Week of Agriculture is a roving regional agricultural event. During the week, policy-makers, experts and institutional actors from the Caribbean, come together to discuss strategic issues regarding the future of agriculture in the Caribbean. On Tuesday, officials begin meeting in preparation for the Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which will be convened on Friday. Focus will also be placed on Tuesday on agricultural health and food safety.