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Caribbean agricultural research gets boost through new agreement

Left to right: CARDI’s Executive Director, Barton Clarke; IICA’s Director General, Victor M. Villalobos and the Director of CTA, Michael Hailu at the signing of several accords including one between CARDI and CTA.

The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Tuesday agreed to conduct research to help boost the quality of agricultural production and market foods.

Guyana is a member of CARDI.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by CARDI’s Executive Director, Barton Clarke and CTA Director, Michael Hailu at the Barbados office of the International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA).

The pact was signed at a time when CARDI continues to remain cash-strapped and several member-states of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have raised concerns about the effectiveness of that regional institution. In apparent reference to that constraint, Clarke said the CTA-CARDI accord has given his organisation a new lease on life to realize economic enfranchisement of Caribbean peoples through agriculture and food security.

“CARDI is, in a sense, at the crossroads and when you are at such crossroads is when you know who your friends,” he said in referring to CTA and IICA.

CTA Director, Michael Hailu said working with the International Institute of Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA)  and CARDI would help his organisation benefit from the technical capacity, research and policy access to develop agri-business, value-chain and food and nutrition security and build climate resilience.

“It’s absolutely critical for us to work with these institutions. Of course, what CTA brings is a different set of skills in terms of networking, in terms of linking the region with the relevant regions especially the Pacific where similar issues and experiences are being addressed as well,” said Hailu.

The MoU states that CTA and CARDI agree to place emphasis on enhancing the capacity for relevant innovative and effective agricultural research and development and disseminating technologies and practices that contribute to on farm post-harvest processing and marketing efficiencies.

“The areas of cooperation covered by this MoU shall be any which enhance the comparative advantage of the parties,” states the document.

The CTA, which has been established by the European Union (EU) and the 77-nation African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), and CARDI are also expected to collaborate on research and document evidences of best practices on approaches, tools and climate-smart agricultural practices that can help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change on agricultural and rural sectors.

Facilitating the use of modern Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools to share and promote information on innovations, markets, and research and development strategies is also another of the objectives of both organisations.

The CTA and CARDI are to develop a detailed work-plan to establish the key specific activities or projects to be delivered. An annual review of the work being done by the CTA and CARDI would be conducted.