Mr Chairman, Djoemadi Kasanmoesdiran
Your Excellency, Desiree Delano Bouterse, President of Suriname
Your Excellency, Hon. Soeresh Algoe, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Suriname
Her Excellency Manorma Soeknandan, Deputy Secretary General, CARICOM Secretariat
Mr Michael Hailu, Director, CTA
Dr Deep Ford, Sub Regional Representative, FAO
Dr Victor Villalobos, Director General, IICA
Hon. Ministers responsible for Agriculture in the Caribbean
Representatives of Constituent Members, CAFY, CANROP, CABA and Regional Farmers as represented by CAFAN
Participants of the Many Workshops and Seminars, especially those youths in the:
- Caribbean Science and Agriculture Videos and Film Competition
- Agri Hack Competition
Distinguised Ladies and Gentlemen
Members of the Media
That was a long and exhaustive salutation. Almost took up all of my speaking time. However, I deliberately wanted to do this so as to exemplify the diversity of the actors within the agricultural and rural community and also to highlight that the business of modernisation of the agriculture sector is a national or cabinet responsibility and not only that of the Ministers of Agriculture and those in the sector.
Mr Chairman, it will be remiss of me if I do not say a word of thanks for the late Hon. Roger Clarke, former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Jamaica. Minister Clarke was a founding Member of the Alliance. Except for a short period, when his party was not in power, he participated in all Alliance meetings and CWA events. Once available, he was elected by his Ministerial Colleagues to be Chairman of the Alliance for an unbroken period, a feat that was only surpassed by his record as an elected Member of Parliament for his Constituencies. In my estimation, he was the major political driving force responsible for the success of the Alliance and the CWA as we experience it today. We owe him a deep sense of gratitude especially as we heard Hon. Minister David Tosul Butulso, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Vanuatu, stating that CWA will be used as an example for the Pacific Week of Agriculture.
Secondly, Mister Chairman, I wish to thank the Government and People of Suriname for hosting this CWA. You just have to look around and recognise the tremendous physical effort that has gone into this initiative. However, this has not been confined to physical effort. It is surpassed by the intellectual and visionary effort in the selection of the Theme for this year's CWA:
TRANSFORMING CARIBBEAN AGRICULTURE THROUGH FAMILY FARMING
We are all aware that this is the year of Family Farming. However, this event is by far the largest in the Caribbean. We need to do this as the Region has for many years depended on the production of Family Farms to keep us satisfied. It is the income from Family Farms that has facilitated the education of most of our doctors, engineers, lawyers and perhaps politicians. But the Family Farmers have generally been unheralded and sometimes despised. It is my sincerest hope that following CWA and 2014, the Family Farm and the Family Farmers will be given the respect and place of honour that are so deserving.
Mr Chairman, the Government and People of Suriname, through the Minister of Agriculture, also did something (which I would not mention publicly) that forced the Members of the Steering Committee to work more closely than ever before in the planning for any CWA. Our intellectual and organisational capacities were severely challenged. However, the end result was a more focussed and meaningful Week that should significantly contribute to setting in a more objective and programmed manner, the Way Forward for achieving the goal of 20% Food and Nutrition Security within the next year or two.
Thank you, Hon. Minister and I wish to assure you that CARDI, as the Chair of the Regional Food and Nutrition Cluster will ensure that this focus, cooperation and steadfastness will continue. This is particularly critical as we all aim to work to implement the agricultural and related components of the CARICOM Five-Year Strategy that Member States have developed over the last two or so years and was recently endorsed by Heads.
Finally, Mr Chairman, this week CARDI will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with CELOS, the major agricultural research entity in Suriname Once this is done, there will be greater availability of technology and processes from the Region to Suriname and vice versa. We will be starting with collaboration in the control of Black Sigatoka Disease utilising some of the procedures and processes that Suriname has development. We, in CARDI see this event as being very significant as we expect it to lead in the very near future to Suriname becoming a full member of CARDI.
Thank You and God Bless.