"Greater investment in the food and agriculture sector, including effective governance and public policy, can be the driver for increased production, interregional trade and ultimately the food and nutrition security of the people of our region," said Dr. Fletcher-Paul, FAO Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean.
According to Fletcher-Paul, with CARICOM countries importing US$4 billion in food annually and food imports expected to keep rising, strong efforts have to be made to address agricultural investment.
"Moreover, food imports are projected to increase to US $8-10 billion by 2020 if current efforts are not successful in addressing this problem. Not only do we spend resources that we can ill afford, and contribute to a rise in unhealthy nutrition habits among our citizens, but we also fail to take full advantage of export earning opportunities to help drive our regional development," she said. Fletcher-Paul will be among the delegates speaking at CWA. Participants are expected from at least 15 Caribbean countries.
Targetting primarily high level officials including Ministers of Agriculture, Permanent Secretaries, senior CARICOM delegates, private sector and civil society, CWA is a collaborative venture between CARICOM, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Caribbean Agricultural and Research Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
"We look forward to the Ministers of Agriculture engaging on specific issues concerning increasing agricultural production and trade, agricultural policy, agricultural health and food safety and a range of other relevant matters, with a focus on reducing the Region's food import bill and empowering our rural communities," said Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of CARICOM.
Other speakers slated for CWA include Dr Michael Hialu, Director, CTA, Dr. Victor Viallalobos Director General, IICA, Dr. Keith Ameil, Corporate Affairs Manager, Caribbean Broilers, Mr Darwin Telemaque, Port Manager - Antigua & Barbuda Port Authority and Dr Desiree Field-Ridley, CARICOM Secretariat.
The week of activities will feature seminars, high level meetings, training sessions and an expo highlighting innovative products such as the cassava bread. For further information on the Caribbean Week of Agriculture please visit the http://www.cwa2016cayman.com