Agriculture is a major economic sector in the Caribbean. In CARICOM, it continues to generate significant income; facilitate food supply and food and nutrition sovereignty; contribute to physical and infrastructural development; and reduce poverty and hunger. It provides significant employment opportunities in a region where high levels of unemployment continue to be a major concern.
Emerging issues in this sector include Protected Agriculture, Herbals, Organic Agriculture and Agro-energy. Organic Agriculture and Agro-energy - the last seeks to generate and validate technologies that facilitate the development of sustainable and competitive industries. Research and development interventions are mainly focused on Undercover/Protected agriculture, Organic agriculture and Herbals at this time.
The Community Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2019 identifies Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Security and Export Development) as a key economic growth driver in building CARICOM’s economic resilience. In this context, it seeks to reposition the regional agricultural and fisheries sector as one economic space for growth and export development. It seeks also to enable food and nutrition security, taking into account existing strategies to remove key binding constraints and to deliver on the Common Agriculture Policy, the Regional Food and Nutrition Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy:
The CARICOM Secretariat continues to work with Member States and other regional and international stakeholders to design, implement and execute policies, programmes and projects to accelerate the development of this sector. For CARICOM, changing the underlying dynamics of the agricultural sector by putting in place the necessary technical, infrastructural and incentive frameworks needed to spur innovation and stimulate output, continues to be an imperative in 2016.
Major areas for focus in 2016
With the principal aim of advancing the implementation of approved policies: Common Agriculture Policy, the Regional Food and Nutrition Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, a major activity of the Agriculture programme in 2016 will be to facilitate the establishment of an enabling policy framework to support growth and development of the agricultural sector. The expected outcome is increased production and enhanced management of natural resources and bio-diversity, realized through specific outputs, including:
- CARICOM Animal and Plant Health Model Legislation validation
- Upgraded regional agribusiness platform and enhanced capacity of producers to use platform for business and trade-related information
- Regional Policy framework and a Business Development Plan for a coordinating mechanism for the Region’s herbs and spices industry
- Drought hazard annexes to disaster risk management plans for some countries
- Regional Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan for Services of Agricultural Professionals