Jamaica to host regional workshop on cassava

Technical officers from five Caribbean countries have ended a weeklong workshop aimed at learning about new ways of adding value to cassava production and modern technologies for processing the vegetable, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has announced.

The workshop was the second of three events scheduled for 2015 to strengthen alliances and share knowledge among countries. The last one will be held in Jamaica, where Colombia’s Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia) will be donating a cassava processing plant to promote value added.

IICA said the specialists also strengthened their working relationship with a view to creating an innovation network with the Central American countries and Panama designed to facilitate cassava production, processing, and marketing.

“Cassava is a strategically important crop for the region, a great option for guaranteeing nutrition and food security, and can be a good source of income. Therefore, sharing knowledge as part of a hemispheric agenda is essential to overcome current constraints,” said IICA Deputy Director General, Lloyd Day.

The Caribbean countries represented at the workshop were Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, Grenada, and Barbados, while the Latin American nations taking part were Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

The event was organized by IICA, the European Union (EU) –through the Regional Program for Research and Innovation by Agricultural Value Chains (PRIICA)– and Colombia’s Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia). Costa Rica’s National Institute for Innovation and Transfer in Agricultural Technology (INTA) and the CLAYUCA Corporation also provided support.

“We didn’t realize you could do so many things with cassava. Now we know we can do so much more. When you have the knowledge and support of national and international entities, it puts you in a position to empower people in the countryside,” said Jamaica’s Patricia Bigby.

Katrina Bradshaw, of the Barbados Ministry of Agriculture, said that the information she had compiled during the five-day workshop would make it possible to commence and strengthen the production of cassava for human consumption in her country.

The Guyana delegate, Oudho Homenauth, agreed with Bradshaw, adding that the experience had been very educational, as they had been able to observe the practical side of value added, which would be very useful for strengthening marketing in his country.

“The first step in this process is to achieve integration with other regions, as we have made great progress in linking the Central American countries. In 2016, we want to consolidate those partnerships and generate new ones that will enable us to project the knowledge beyond the region,” said PRICCA coordinator, Miguel Altamirano.

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