(by Kwesi Isles)
Regional ministers say there has been no lag in the implementation of the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture conceptualised in 2003 even as they acknowledge that they should be further along with the plan.
The remarks came at a news conference on Friday which marked the end of Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) 2013 in Georgetown, Guyana.
The Jagdeo Initiative named after former Guyanese president Bharrat Jagdeo was first voiced under his tenure as Lead Head on Agriculture and identified 10 key binding constraints to the sector’s development. It was visualised that its implementation would see agriculture playing a greater role in national and regional development by 2015.
“We all lament the fact as ministers that the progress has been very slow and painstaking and that maybe we should have been much more advanced than we are presently. That being the case though we recognise that there’s still a need for us to work from a national standpoint ensuring that our populace understand their role, that our various ministries perform their roles and at the same time link it to the regional initiative,” Grenada’s Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola said.
His Guyanese counterpart Dr. Leslie Ramsammy also acknowledged that progress was slow but added that CWA 2013 reaffirmed their commitment to use the Initiative as the vehicle to transform agriculture and contribute to sustainable growth in the region.
“I don’t want people to get the impression that the Jagdeo Initiative was formulated and then abandoned, that’s not the case.”
According to the minister, much work has been done and he noted that the Initiative identified food and nutrition security as a constraint and set out a number of alleviating activities which included the development of national strategies.
“So far 11 countries have done so and not only developing the strategies but work plans with indicators; Guyana is one of those countries. So when we say that we are disappointed and that we have made slow progress we don’t mean that there was a lag in implementation,” Dr, Ramsammy said.
However, the region had not set out timelines for the alleviation measures which it was now looking to do. “We have mandated a working group led by CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute) to in fact look at the alleviating activities and put timelines on them.”
Earlier, CARICOM’s Officer-in-Charge of Trade and Economic Integration Desiree Field-Ridley said they would be judged by what comes next with the follow up requiring all the stakeholders in the region working together.