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Exploring new ways of transforming the agri-­food sector in the Caribbean and Pacific

A CTA report from the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum

The Caribbean and Pacific Agri-food Forum 2015 (CPAF 2015) took place in Bridgetown, Barbados 2–6 November. More than 250 thought-leaders, decision makers and agri-food experts from the Caribbean, Pacific and across the world gathered at the event to exchange experiences, share knowledge and explore how an agribusiness approach can drive rural development in small island states. Participants came from private enterprises, government organisations, financial institutions, tourism and food businesses, development partners, news organisations and other agribusiness organisations.

Linking, learning and transforming

An initial review from the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum

The Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum (CPAF15) brought together farmers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers and media from across the Caribbean and the Pacific, as well as other countries including Indian Ocean islands. CPAF15 took place from 2 to 6 November 2015 in Bridgetown, Barbados and consisted of eight workshops held in parallel sessions during the first three days and an Agribusiness Forum during the final two days. 

Around 300 participants from 37 countries attended, representing 110 organisations from farmers’ organisations to policymakers. Some participants also took part in learning journeys to other Caribbean countries (Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago).

Importantly, the Forum highlighted achievements from - and opportunities available to - Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Discover participant’s impressions of the event and read newly-available reports on participants' statistics as well as post-event survey results.

Agribusiness is a data intensive process from identifying suppliers investors and buyers, to using environmental risk and research data. With the revolution in ICTs we have an opportunity for data handling to transform agribusiness.

Small-scale farmers are missing opportunities to supply the burgeoning tourism sector in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean. Top chefs from all three regions meeting on the final day of the 2nd Caribbean Agribusiness Forum have called for menus in the hospitality trade to make greater use of local ingredients, as a way of bolstering livelihoods for small-scale farmers and agri-processors. Tourism is growing rapidly in many Small Island Developing States (SIDS), offering real potential for economic growth.

Cassava and other indigenous roots and tubers hold excellent opportunities for agribusiness in the Caribbean, helping to reduce the import bill, improve public health and create openings for small-scale farmers and agri-processors. The bakery, animal feed and beverage industries all have untapped potential for using cassava, sweet potatoes, yam and dasheen as a key ingredient. A panel on Opportunities in the Roots and Tubers Industry, held on the first day of the 2nd Caribbean Agribusiness Forum, explored the scope for creating the right environment for the private sector to develop these sectors. 

The capacity of farmers’ organisations must be strengthened if they are to stand a real chance of seizing opportunities for engagement in value chains and in issues that affect their future. A two-day training workshop, held as part of the Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum, is offering training in policy advocacy, research and leadership. The workshop is one of a package of sessions aimed at offering behind-the-scenes support to farmers as they seek to play a more prominent role in the agri-food sector.

Addressing climate change challenges - and bolstering small-scale farmers’ ability to grow crops and raise livestock in spite of increasingly difficult conditions – will be critical to developing the agri-food sector of Caribbean and Pacific island states. A workshop on Building Partnerships and Alliances to Scale up Climate-Smart and Adaptation Solutions in the Caribbean has identified some of the most effective strategies available to island farmers and explored pathways for ensuring take-up among ACP producers.

A value chain approach is a powerful formula for developing sustainable market linkages in vulnerable small island economies. That was a key message from the first day of the Caribbean and Pacific Agri-Food Forum, which opened in Barbados on November 2. This market-driven strategy for agri-food production can play an important role in bringing together farmers, fisherfolk, traders, food processers, marketers, buyers and financiers. As a result, small-scale farmers have better prospects of being linked to markets and livelihood prospects stand a good chance of being improved for all those in the chain, leading to more jobs, higher incomes and better food security.

A five-day event aimed at promoting synergies between the Caribbean and Pacific to spur agrifood development takes centre stage in Bridgetown, Barbados next month. The first Caribbean and Pacific Agrifood Forum, organised by CTA and partners from November 2 to 6, will seek to harness cross-learning between policy-makers, private sector players and farmers' representatives as a way of harnessing innovative solutions that can benefit the agrifood sector in both regions.