Addressing current and future challenges requires a departure from business as usual and embracing the rightfully proclaimed 'transformational vision'.
As part of the international community and as mandated by the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and European Union (EU) states, within the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is set to contribute to the agenda through targeted interventions in the areas of its comparative advantage and where the best opportunities to work collaboratively with other like-minded agencies and partners lie. The outcomes of this agenda setting will be clearly reflected in its new Strategic Plan for 2016–2020.
CTA has initiated the implementation of regional strategic and operational plans built around key priority intervention areas. This is based on a common understanding of the key challenges and opportunities related to agriculture and rural development in ACP regions and territories, and the areas where CTA, together with its partners, is committed to making a difference.
It is against this backdrop that we are organising a Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum that brings together diverse actors from the agrifood system to engage in collective actions that can contribute to the transformative efforts of agriculture and the rural milieu.
Composed of many small island developing states (SIDS), both regions share common characteristics in their productive and trading systems, priority value chains, services sectors, food security and nutrition status, vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, as well as in institutional arrangements. SIDS deserve special attention and their relevant strategies and programmes of action (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action [SAMOA] Pathway) have expressed support in the sustainable development agenda.
We are building on our capacities and previous experiences and collaboration with partners in those regions but also from our African partners, particularly in the areas of information and communications technologies (ICTs) and agricultural finance. We are confident that in so doing we can make further progress towards:
• more profitable and sustainable value chains and agricultural
• businesses that are inclusive of small-scale farmers, women and young entrepreneurs
• better agriculture–nutrition links and multi-sector collaboration leading to people owning their own nutrition agenda
• resilient communities and climate-smart agricultural practices and policies in the face of climate change.
Those are the end-points and the areas on which CTA will be focusing in the coming years as part of its Caribbean and Pacific Regional Business Plans 2015-2017, and we invite you to join us on the journey.
The Caribbean region's agriculture is at a crossroads. The fallout in commodity trade with Europe has left no fewer than 500,000 small-scale farmers in a quandary as they no longer enjoy unfettered access to these export markets. Declining service provision plus challenges related to natural resource degradation, climate change, limited financing, heavy food import dependency and rising nutrition-related diseases all compound to produce a heavy negative impact on agriculture's contribution to gross domestic product.
A set of interrelated and iterative guiding principles are expected to be observed at all stages of the process. These principles integrate an approach for collective generation and appropriation of knowledge.
• Reach out to others and share information and experience with those necessary to address complex problems, to which you are committed, in a sustainable way. Without them it is not possible to achieve the desired changes.
• Reflect to clarify what you know (or do not know) and revise concepts that can be operational in your relevant context.
• Break boundaries by recognising your own strengths and weaknesses, and aim to reach agreements and commitments to joint actions that are viable and beneficial to all partners.
• Design and pilot interventions, including innovative research, capacity building, learning and continued improvement and setting up systems to measure progress against objectives.
• Reflect on what works well (or does not), reconfigure previous concepts and strategies, document and disseminate lessons.
• Recognise your immediate, external and macro environment, including actors and institutional arrangements, policies, practices, ideas and beliefs, power relations and culture and work with advocating partners for system change.