The Caribbean nations entertain two fundamentally different types of agriculture: large-scale commercial plantations and small-scale semi-subsistence farming. Plantation farming generates the most exports, by value, whereas smallholder farming provides food, livelihoods and employment for local people. Even though agriculture remains a major economic force in the region, the Caribbean imports US$4–5 billion worth of food each year.
CTA is collaborating with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) to organise the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2016.
The government of the Cayman Islands is hosting the event from 24 to 28 October 2016 in Grand Cayman. CWA is an annual event that brings together key decision-makers and stakeholders from the public and private sectors in the Caribbean to establish a common purpose towards repositioning agriculture and enhancing rural life.
Agriculture is essential to the economic, social and environmental stability of the region, yet attracting and stimulating investment in Caribbean agriculture is a major challenge. The theme for CWA 2016, 'Investing in Food and Agriculture', highlights the importance of investment for both primary agriculture and the region's developing food industry.
"This edition of CWA is of special significance," says Juan Cheaz, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator for Agricultural Policy and Value Chains. "The Cayman Islands is a highly dynamic country where one can see and feel the links between the agricultural sector and the booming hospitality industry."
CTA has been a major partner and sponsor of CWA activities since 2003. As well as sponsoring about 60 people from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to attend the 2016 event, CTA is organising three activities during the course of the week. First, CTA, through the Intra-ACP APP Project and the CTA youth project ARDYIS, in collaboration with CARICOM, is supporting a team of 15 young social reporters to attend and report on the event throughout the week. Starting off with two days of intensive training, the reporters will use social media platforms to raise awareness on the event, engage on-site participants, inform the wider audience of the proceedings and open a two-way communication channel between the organisers and the online audience.
CTA’s second activity will be to convene a one-and-a-half-day event on 24 and 25 October to discuss sustainable and profitable value chains in the Caribbean. (CTA and its partners have defined sustainable and profitable value chains and agribusiness development as priority areas in their regional business plans.) Over 40 people involved in project activities in production, post-harvest, marketing, finance, ICTs, technology and organisational development in support of specific value chains will discuss progress to date, review plans and strengthen partnerships.
Sessions will examine the progress that producers and producers’ organisations have made in growing roots and tubers for production and export, and discuss specific cases of value- chain finance. The deliberations will develop an action plan for scaling up priority value chains.
Thirdly, on the afternoon of 25 October, a session will promote agribusiness development in the Caribbean by sharing successful business cases that have stimulated investment. Since 2014, CTA, the Caribbean Agribusiness Association (CABA), IICA and FAO have been organising an annual forum to promote agribusiness export and regional markets. The event, Investing in Agribusiness Development in the Caribbean: Successes, Innovations and Impact, will share the impact of some of these successes. The cases will include Chefs for Development; increasing the use of regional staples in the bakery industry; increasing the use of regional staples in the fast food sector; reducing the imports of vegetables; strengthening linkages with EU markets; and using data for agribusiness. In these discussions, the participants will identify new markets, promote linkages and identify further funding support.
“CTA will bring success stories in agribusiness development, not only from the Caribbean region but also from the Pacific, as we strive to facilitate links between these and other ACP regions,” says Cheaz. “We will share and discuss strategies to help small-scale agricultural producers access markets and finance. We will do this by bringing together value-chain actors engaged in current efforts to develop more sustainable and profitable value chains in the Caribbean.”