The goal of the business plan is to reduce poverty and enhance the well-being of rural families throughout the Caribbean, by using interventions targeted at small-scale farmers, including women and young entrepreneurs.
It focuses on two key intervention areas that are interrelated: developing sustainable agricultural value chains and market links, and building climate-resilient and nutrition-sensitive food systems.
Mr Hailu is keen to ensure these targets remain a priority in the region and enlisted the help of Juan Cheaz, Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains, who accompanied him on his tour across the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.
Starting in the Dominican Republic, the delegation attended a learning journey with value chain stakeholders aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of agricultural value chains.
While there, Mr Hailu also met with the Executive Vice-President of Banco ADOPEM – a bank that grew out of the NGO Dominican Association for the Advancement of Women – and delegates from the international development NGO CODESPA Foundation to forge strong linkages within agricultural development.
He also held high-level discussions with private agribusiness organisation the Dominican Agribusiness Council.
In the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Hailu visited the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), where he outlined the objectives of the business plan.
He also toured the processing plant of the Trinidad and Tobago Agri-business Association, and held collaboration talks with the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
Gregg Rawlins, IICA Representative in Trinidad and Tobago and Coordinator for Regional Integration in the region said that he was excited about the regional business plan. "We see a lot of scope for collaboration with flagship projects that IICA has." He added: "What we will do is find common areas for collaboration where we can capitalise on synergies that exist."
Mr Hailu also joined a live television interview on the Caribbean New Media Group's morning show First Up while in Trinidad and Tobago.
In Jamaica, Mr Hailu took part in the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show where he emphasised CTA's efforts to involve more young entrepreneurs. "It is great to see so many young people at the Denbigh Show displaying innovative ways of farming and value addition, including use of drones," he said. "We need many more of such successful young farmers and entrepreneurs."
A guiding principle in the Caribbean business plan is recognising that cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are critical for addressing the challenges of agricultural transformation and ensuring that projects are successfully implemented. Mr Hailu emphasised this and pointed out the key to attracting more young people into agriculture is in changing the discourse and promoting agribusiness.
"We need to support a value chain, farm-to-fork approach. This means not just producing any crop and hoping there will be a buyer, but understanding the market and producing to meet what the market needs," he said. "This requires well-organised farmers, committed buyers and an enabling environment, including affordable credit, good policies, inclusive business practices, and infrastructure."
He also met with representatives from the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) in Jamaica and attended meetings hosted by the Sandals Foundation to discuss strengthening farmers' paths to food and nutrition security, sustainable production, and market access.
Reflecting on the exchanges he had during the mission, Mr Hailu said: "During the last days I have had very interesting interactions with our partners," and noted that he had seen a common thread to the discussions.
"There are many regional organisations based here and I think the main focus for everyone is really how to increase our impacts and be able to reach the end beneficiaries, the farmers, and assist them in their efforts to transform agriculture into a business that benefits their stakeholders."
Find out more
• Download CTA's Regional Business Plan for the Caribbean 2015-2017
• Read about CTA's participation at the 2015 Denbigh Show
• Read about the Caribbean Value Chain Alliance project