Caribbean Week of Agriculture Podcasts

Last Updated on Monday, 28 October 2013, 10:48 by GxMedia

The official opening of CWA 2013. Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar is seated next to the podium at right.

The Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2013 was formally opened on October 9 at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal.

The official opening was held days after several working sessions got underway on a variety of subjects including pest management and climate change, the state of the coconut industry, climate change and the marine environment and women in agriculture.

The Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2013 was formally opened on October 9 at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal.

The CARDI-CTA Media Awards 2013 were also presented during the opening session. Receiving the awards were

  •  Excellence in Print Journalism: Desmond Brown (Jamaica)
  •  Excellence in Television Journalism: Isani Cayetano (Belize)
  •  Excellence in Radio Journalism: Sterling Henderson (Trinidad and Tobago)
  •  Excellence in Online and Digital Media: Athaliah Reynolds (Jamaica)
  •  Youth/Citizen Journalist – Shahad Ali (Trinidad and Tobago)

The official opening was held days after several working sessions got underway on a variety of subjects including pest management and climate change, the state of the coconut industry, climate change and the marine environment and women in agriculture.

The formal opening session was chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, George Jervis. Other speakers were Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Dr. Arlington Chesney, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Michael Hailu, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Raul Benitez, Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Victor Villalobos, Assistant Secretary General (Human and Social Development) of the Caribbean Community Dr. Douglas Slater and the President of Guyana Donald Ramotar. You can listen to the opening session and presentation of the awards here: {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

Hot Peppers…A Hot Topic

The state and prospects of the hot pepper industry was one of the topics addressed at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2013 held in Guyana from October 4 to 12.

The key presenter was Fyaz Shah of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agriculture Research Development Institute (CARDI).

He highlighted the importance of positioning the region’s hot peppers which can be used for a variety of purposes- hot sauces, jellies, jams, paint, pharmaceuticals and security.

Shah traced the hot pepper’s value and expansion including a substitute for the declining banana trade in several of the Caribbean islands.

You can listen to his presentation here. {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

The State of the Fisheries Sector and the Involvement of Youth and Women in Agricuture

The state of the fisheries sector  as well as the role of women and youth in agriculture were put under the microscope at CWA2013.

Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, Susan Singh-Renton discussed the the impact of Climate Change on Fish Stocks and Food and Nutrition in the Caribbean.

She touched on elements such ocean acidification, warming of the seas and the importance of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers. Singh-Renton also lamented the prolonged delay in Caricom giving its final stamp of approval on the Regional Fisheries Policy.

Mr. Malcolm Wallace of the Strategic Alliances Unit of CARDI addressed the topic of Youth and Women Issues in Agriculture Research and Development. The constraints that those two groups face, impact on the agricuture value chain as well and research and development were the focus of Wallace’s presentation.

You can download or listen to a podcast of the session here {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

The Development of the Coconut Industry in the Caribbean

The current and future state of the coconut industry in the Caribbean was one of the topics that attracted the attention of participants in CWA 2013.

The Chairman of St. Patrick Coconut Growers Cooperative Society in Trinidad and Tobago, Pranesh Maharaj hoped that efforts by his country in collaboration with India on the one hand and a recent European Union-funded report would help draft a roadmap for the development of the coconut industry in the Caribbean.

Maharaj highlighted the commercial value of coconuts and the prospects of creating large scale employment.

The official opening of the Session on Cocounuts can be heard here:


The working session can be heard or downloaded here {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

Scientists predict that coconut palms can wilt and production decline if steps aren’t taken to address the prevalence of four pests in various parts of the Caribbean.

They are Lethal Yellowing, Red Ring, Red Palm Mite and the common coconut mite.

Concerns, suggestions and recommendations were discussed at CWA 2013 in the context of the Caribbean taking steps to take advantage of the various products and by-products of coconut.

To listen or download, click here


Food security and journalism

Food for Thought!-That’s what journalism is to agriculture. Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2013 included a workshop that examined the place of journalism in agriculture.

At the same time concerns were raised about the poor agricultural research capacity in the Caribbean since many countries were granted independence by Britain.

President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbings underlined the benefits of these workshops that are usually held during CWA.

He also urged journalists to tell the truth about Caribbean food security, against the backdrop of some interest groups in Trinidad and Tobago griping about taking up the offer of massive acreages of land in Guyana—the region is doing a bad job at feeding itself.

The Caribbean’s official food import bill is about US$4 billion annually.

Officials of Guyana, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute and the Netherlands-based Centre for Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) also weighed in on the issue.

You can listen to a podcast of the presentations here : {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

Science and Journalism- a Good Combo for a balanced news diet

Journalists and experts from across the Caribbean came together to address the matter of Evidence-based Reporting to fill gaps in covering the agriculture sector.

Panellists were Agricultural Scientist Steve Maximay and Guyanese journalist, Enrico Woolford.

Here’s a podcast of a very incisive session: {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

Participants also addressed the issue of Investigative Journalism and Evidence-based journalism. In this session chaired by Enrico Woolford, Mr. Maximay and Ramgopaul Roop of the Caribbean Agricultural Business Association (CABA) were the panellists. Other speakes were the Director of CARDI, Dr.Arlington Chesney and the Director of CTA, Michael Hailu. Here’s the podcast of that session:

Improving the Policy Framework for Developing Climate Change Resilient Agriculture Systems in the Caribbean- Combating the threat of pest outbreaks under climate variability and change.

The official opening of the workshop on Combating the threat of pest outbreaks under climate variability and change was chaired by the Climate Change Programme Leader at CARDI, Dr. Leslie Simpson.

Also addressing the opening session were the Executive Director of CARDI Dr Arlington Chesney and CTA’s Director Michael Hailu.

Delivering the feature address was NAREI’s Executive Director Dr. Oudho Homenauth. You can listen to the opening session here: {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

The workshop focussed on Pest Management and Climate Change which was facilitated by Norman Gibson and chaired by Agriculture Scientist Steve Maximay and chaired by the Director of Guyana’s National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute Dr Oudho Homenauth.

Keith Nichols of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCC) dealt with Climate Change and its impact on Caribbean agriculture.

A synthesis study on the current state of agro-meteorology prediction tools and information systems that can respond to the needs of the farming community was done Adrian Trotman of the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology in Barbados.

Pamela Thomas of the Caribbean Farmers Network addressed the question: Will Climate Change pose a serious threat to crop pest management. Listen to a podcast of this very in-depth session here:


What’s the Science of Weather and Pests?

Experts insist that pests can alter food production and even harm the Caribbean’s vital tourism industry because they can change the landscape.

At the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, experts came together to discuss the issue against the background of figures that show that about 40 percent of crop production is lost due to pests including pathogens and weeds.

Caribbean icon in the field of crop protection Dr. Jean Pollard delivered a presentation on the topic : “Pest dynamics ecology and climate change: Underpinning Policy Interventions for Improved Pest Management.”

The other presentation was done Professor Simone Orlandini of the University of Florence in Italy. He focused on Climate Modelling in the Context of Meeting the Anticipated Threats of Pest.


Joint Technical Session of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture

During this week of activities for Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2013, a host of interesting workshops were held, geared towards addressing emerging issues in the agriculture sector, some of which include the involvement of women and youths in the field, and even the role the media can play.

Guyana’s Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that some of the other workshops included sanitary and phytosanitary standards, the coconut industry, pest control in a climate changing environment, projects that are supported by Canada’s Ministry of Agriculture, imperative for the small ruminant industry in the Caribbean, strengthening ICTs in value chains, mainstreaming and implementation of fisheries policies, and youth in agriculture.

Wesley Gibbings, President, Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) noted that the organisation is pleased with its relationship with the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) which has gone far beyond the initial expectations of providing media coverage.

“CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute) over the years has taken us on as a fraternal partner – side by side and not necessarily one behind the other – in the development of a strategy to ensure our future as Caribbean people,” he said. Further, media practice is not meaningful in any way if it does not have as its core mandate the process of development and assuring the future of the Caribbean people.

Gibbings emphasised that the relationship between ACM and CARDI has not been uneventful. “The ACM has recognised the great value in engaging in this great effort to recognise, reorient, reposition and recalibrate the relationship between the food and agriculture sector and the broader development agenda,” he indicated.

Gibbings illustrated that the media workshop which was held on Saturday has grown in stature and value.

Apart from Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, the planning of the 12th CWA is a collaborative effort between the alliance members which include the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), CARICOM, CARDI and CTA.

Gregg Rawlins, Regional Coordinator, IICA expressed appreciation to the Government of Guyana for hosting the CWA 2013. “CWA continues to be a premium regional agriculture event on the CARICOM calendar…the event provides for dialogue and networking among stakeholders drawn from across the agriculture sector and represents an opportunity to showcase development in the sector and bring attention to the important role the sector plays in relation to food and nutrition security,” he said.

With regards to the CWA 2013 theme,‘Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development’, Rawlins noted that IICA can closely identify with it and for years the institute has supported the adoption of regional approaches for the development of agriculture and the rural sectors in the Caribbean region.

In making reference to the small ruminant industry workshop, which has already concluded, Rawlins expressed hope that the discussions will lead to the stimulation of the subsector. “We will continue to foster our support linkages between our youth and women entrepreneurs,” he posited.

He also stressed that the response to the various workshops that are slated are clear indications that CWA is alive and well, and continues to be a vehicle for driving the development of agriculture in the Caribbean. IICA pledged its continued support to the event.

CARDI’s Executive Director, Dr. Arlington Chesney explained that the joint technical sessions were established a few years ago to allow participants who have been involved in the CWA to be exposed to a range of critical emerging issues that have an impact on the future of the agriculture sector in the region.

“It also allows all of us to work together so that we could collectively utilise the relatively small resources that we each have which together could make a significant difference to what we want to do, and what we want to do is to achieve the major objective – to reduce hunger and poverty in the region and thus enhance the economic state and quality of life of Caricom states and rural populations,” he said.

hese efforts will esteem agriculture as the major economic driver in the development of the region.

Since several of the workshops are facilitated by CTA, the organisation’s Director, Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation, Michael Hailu explained that participating in the event is very high on the organisation’s calendar as it provides opportunities for partners to reflect on progress made in the last year.

“In recent years we have made it a tradition to have most of our workshops planned for the Caribbean during the CWA so that we can take advantage of the great number of participants who are present,” he said. However the challenge is to ensure that decisions made at previous meetings were fulfilled.

Officer-in- Charge, Trade and Economic Integration CARICOM, Desiree Field – Ridley during her interaction with the stakeholders highlighted what needs to be done in the agriculture sector. She stressed that the theme makes clear the way forward for the industry especially since the community has identified agriculture as the key sector that drives growth and development.

Since the challenges are evident, initiatives like the CWA present the opportunity to ensure that agriculture plays the role for which it is earmarked.

“We have identified in the region the various priorities for agriculture, but we need to be able to demonstrate particularly to the non-agriculture people how important agriculture is…this CWA is one way of showcasing what agriculture is and what agriculture can be,” Field- Ridley highlighted.

Guyana is hosting, for the second time, the 12th Caribbean Week of Agriculture from October 4 -12, 2013. The activities tie in with that of Agriculture Month 2013.


Launch of Video
Local Voices in Climate Change Adaptation- focusing on Marine Resources and Fisheries is the title of a video that was staged at CWA 2013.

The introduction was done by the Director of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), Milton Haughton. You can listen or download the introductory remarks by him and several other speakers here: {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

Women in agriculture: the new sexy in developmental circles
CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The contribution of women to agriculture and agribusiness, and by extension, to national and regional development was hailed on Tuesday as a Women’s Forum got underway at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2013 in Georgetown, Guyana.

The one-day forum, part of a series of activities of the 12th CWA provided a unique opportunity to raise the issue of the economic empowerment of women amongst policy-makers in the Region. The Forum was held under the theme `Expanding Economic Opportunities for Women in Agriculture in the Caribbean and the Pacific’. It was organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the United States Department of State.

You can listen to the formal opening of the Women’s Forum here:


Delivering the feature address at the opening of the Forum, the Hon. Jennifer Webster, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Guyana, reiterated that the empowerment of women was a catalyst for development in every society, especially in the Caribbean. This was particularly so, she said, in the area of food and nutrition security.

Highlighting examples of the impact women in Guyana were making in the agriculture sector, the Minister said that prospects for women in agribusiness in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, were promising.

“The good news is that women in agribusiness are the `new sexy’ in developmental circles,” she said.

As she focused on efforts to empower women in the agriculture sector, Minister Webster called for the general support for and protection of women’s right to securing food for their families, communities and countries, in light of natural disasters, social and economic challenges and other vulnerabilities.

Innovative ways to create new opportunities and expand existing ones had to be found, she said, while pointing to the power of networking and the establishment of linkages between agriculture and other industries to motivate women’s involvement, increase economic gains and enjoy food and nutrition security.

“There is also a greater need for financial support for women in agribusiness. Micro credit has made it possible for many women to do business. We need to make access to financing for projects to be undertaken by our women more accessible through more competitive rates which could be negotiated through incentive regimes with the commercial banks. It is therefore necessary to expand and reorient training programmes, which target skills training development in these and other new areas of agribusiness. Similarly, as a matter of urgency, we need to address the issue of packaging and labeling our products, as we seek to compete in today’s globalised world and in a highly competitive market place,” the Minister told the well-attended Forum.

The Forum’s objectives are discussion on economic opportunities for women in the Caribbean and Pacific; development of an Inter-Regional Action Plan for Caribbean-Pacific collaboration; development of a Caribbean Action Plan for Economic Empowerment of Women; and sensitizing the Alliance of Ministers of Agriculture and Pacific Ministerial delegations present at the CWA on the specific support needed for women’s farmers and entrepreneurs.

You can listen to the sessions here:

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Sessions included those on strengthening the image of farmers and farming, focusing on success stories; building business relationships to link to greater markets and stakeholders in tourism, supermarket and distributive trade; and promoting capacity building, networking and knowledge sharing.

The CWA is being held under the theme `Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development. Although activities began on 4 October, the Caribbean’s premier agricultural event will be formally opened on Wednesday 9 October. CWA concludes on 12 October.

Caribbean gets European aid to boost food safety
The European Union (EU) Wednesday night agreed to spend US$15.7 million on improving systems to ensure that Caribbean food exports meet international standards, officials said.

EU Ambassador to Guyana, Robert Kopecky and Director General of the Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), Víctor Villalobos inked the agreement on the margins of Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) being held in Guyana.

“Nobody doubts  the quality and organic nature of the products of the Caribbean but some bureaucratic procedures from the point of view of consumer protection aren’t simply there,” said Kopecky.

You can listen to a podcast of the signing ceremony held on the laws of the Liliendaal Swimming Pool. {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}

He explained that proper sanitary and phytosanitary standards would ensure that the Caribbean could take adequate advantage of its Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU. 

Kopecky later told AFP that under the three-year project, the funds would be used for training and possibly the establishment of food testing laboratories.

The EU envoy said that not only food exports to the EU would be of a high standard but also food to other markets. “Europe is not the only market in the world that has these requirements but we don’t car- emerging ones, traditional ones-these experts would be used because we want to boost Caricom states agricultural production in general,” he said.

Since the Caribbean signed the EPA with the EU in 2008, very little has been done to kick-start trade, particularly from the region to Europe.

CWA Closing Press Conference
The curtains came down on the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2013 with a closing news conference.

Participating were the Minister for Agriculture and Forestry of Dominica, Matthew Walter, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Roland Bhola of Grenada, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and Officer-in-Charge of Trade and Economic Integration in CARICOM, Desiree Field-Ridley.

The ministers briefed the media on the outcome of the meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) – Agriculture.

They emphasised the importance of regional food self-sufficiency and the need to boost regional cassava production.

Also discussed were funding for CARDI and how the region was handling moves by an American non-governmental organisation to persuade the United States to cease importing certain fish from the Caribbean because they are extinct.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) is mapping out a strategy to respond to that NGO. You can listen to the press conference here: {mp3remote}{/mp3remote}