The Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the rural milieu (The Alliance)

The word, "Alliance" indicates very explicitly the intent and purpose of the organization. That is a grouping of representatives of stakeholders involved in agriculture and rural development. The representatives of Governments, private sector, academia, rural women, youth and technology developers dialogue as EQUALS with the Ministers being primus inter pares.

The words, Wider Caribbean are extremely significant as The Alliance in its functioning sets out to dismantle the artificial barriers within the Caribbean that were established during colonial and neo-colonial periods. As such, the constituent members of The Alliance have participants, from English, French, Spanish speaking countries transcending all previous and even existing administrative or political regimes.

In 1995/96, an internal IICA review of the existing national agricultural organizations shows that, at country level with one exception, the Junta Agroempresarial Dominicana (JAD), were weak, disunified, insignificant and ineffective in the national scenario. In addition, they were either substantially dependent on Governments for their survival or else were considered to be antagonistic. It was also recognised that there were no regional organisation representing agri-entrepreneurs or agriculture in a holistic manner.

Further, the national or regional organisations, were not involved in discussions in issues of relevance to the development of agriculture and rural life taking place at the global level and stakeholders were generally unaware of the detailed implications of same. At the same time, IICA with financing from IDB, conducted a study on the role of women in Caribbean Agriculture. It concluded inter-alia that, compared to men, women were more stable, more amenable to the use of new technology, and contributed significantly to the labour force in the development of the Region's agriculture and rural spaces. The result of this was the formation of the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CNRWP).

In 1999, it was recognised that even though there were the CABA which was formed in 1996/1997, CNRWP and PROCICARIBE, there was no formal access to the key decision makers. Further, even though IICA was the common factor, there was no "mechanism" for them to meet and develop a common vision.

Another study was commissioned which validated the need for a "mechanism" for all the major stakeholders (including the Ministers of Agriculture) to meet but noted the concerns of some countries that the Forum of Ministers (which was included in the "mechanism") could duplicate the Standing Committee of Ministers of Agriculture (SCMA). However, when the SCMA was removed from CARICOM institutional infrastructure, this concern disappeared and in October 2000, The Alliance was launched in Kingston, Jamaica.