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Three-way agreement pledges to upgrade agriculture in the Caribbean using cutting-edge approaches

For immediate release - Bridgetown, Barbados, 4 November 2015

A trio of agreements signed today will pave the way for stronger development cooperation in the Caribbean. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two long-standing partners: the Caribbean Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), pledging to work closely with both to further agricultural and rural development in the region. Meanwhile, CARDI and IICA signed a General Technical Cooperation Agreement (GTCA) with each other. The ceremony took place during the Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum being staged this week in Bridgetown, Barbados.

inline communique 4From left to right: Barton Clarke, Executive Director of CARDI; Victor Villalobos, Director General of IICA; and Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)

The MoU signed between CTA and IICA provides a three-year agreement to work together to strengthen youth and women's networks in the Caribbean, support value chain development for priority commodities, host the annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture, foster exchanges between the Caribbean and the Pacific in areas such as agritourism and agribusiness and build knowledge management and communication platforms for stakeholders in the agricultural sector.

Specifically, the two organisations have agreed to pool their strengths and collaborate in promoting sustainable agricultural value chains and market linkages, agribusiness and agritourism, climate smart agriculture and nutrition-sensitive food systems, as well as in offering support to advisory services, technology transfer and innovation. They have undertaken to develop learning resources, training and capacity development, including in the area of data, information, communication and knowledge management. They also agreed to support agricultural policy research and development, promote youth engagement in agriculture and economic empowerment of women and provide institutional strengthening of recognised farmer and agro-processor groups. Facilitating access by Caribbean agricultural stakeholders to information, knowledge and experiences is an important part of the agreement, as is developing multipartite collaboration arrangements with third party organisations, mobilising complementary scientific, technical and financial resources to implement joint activities in the Caribbean and promoting sound project cycle management practices and joint organisational learning initiatives.

In a separate MoU signed between CTA and CARDI, both organisations agreed that collaboration between them will add value to the work done by each by widening access to sources of relevant information and knowledge and using the expertise of the two organisations in joint activities, sharing lessons learned. The two organisations agreed to focus on working together to enhance capacity for relevant, innovative and effective agricultural research and development, and to disseminate technologies and practices that contribute to on-farm, post‐harvest, processing and marketing efficiencies. They pledged to collaborate in research and documentation of evidence and best practices related to approaches, tools, and climate‐smart agricultural practices that help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change on the agricultural and rural sectors. And they committed to facilitating the use of modern information and communication technology (ICT) tools to share and promote information on innovations, markets, research and development strategies.

"We greatly appreciate the long-standing partnership that we have had with both IICA and CARDI, as we all share a strong commitment to the improvement of the livelihoods of Caribbean farmers and fisherfolk," said CTA Director Michael Hailu. "We believe in the importance of transforming the agricultural sector as an engine for growth, youth employment, food security and healthy diets in the region. The MoUs that we have signed today with IICA and CARDI will further strengthen our collaboration to achieve concrete results that will benefit Caribbean farmers."

Dr. Victor Villalobos, Director General of IICA, thanked CTA for its support over the years. "IICA places great value on its partnership with CTA, and this morning we renew our commitment to CTA through the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, which focuses on the overall framework, within which CTA and IICA will collaborate on projects and areas of mutual interest for the ultimate benefit of agriculture in the Caribbean region," he said. "IICA brings to the partnership well established networks and systems to manage knowledge and information to meet the needs of countries, and also a strong on-the-ground presence in 34 member countries, including 15 countries of the Caribbean."

Barton Clarke, Executive Director of CARDI, identified key areas of joint action with CTA as research and development to increase agricultural production, attracting youth to agriculture, addressing climate change and generating intellectual property and new technologies. Speaking of the MoU signed with CTA, he said: "I regard this as a re-engagement and recommitment to assisting the people of the Caribbean to really live their dream of food security, their dream of being far more in charge of their destinies, their dream of economic enfranchisement, using agriculture as a springboard."

In parallel during today's ceremony, CARDI and IICA signed a General Technical Cooperation Agreement (GTCA), promising to collaborate to achieve sustainable development of the agriculture sector and enhanced rural prosperity in general, and the economic viability of selected agricultural sub-sectors and enterprises. They agreed to work together on direct technical cooperation, to improve agricultural production and productivity and build resilience in agriculture through sustainable and efficient use and management of environmental resources, particularly soil and water and adaptation to climate change variability.

For more information, please contact:
Stéphane Gambier, Senior Programme Coordinator Communications (CTA)
gambier@cta.int
Tel.: +31 (0)317 46 71 79