Farmers called on the regional heads to make stronger commitments to agriculture and farmers as the 12th meeting of the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and Rural Millieu on Wednesday during Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Suriname. Leading this call was Jethro Greene , Chief Coordinator of the Caribbean Farmers Network, CaFan.
“I don’t want no iffy iffy, I’d like a firm commitment and a start to the negotiations and discussions that we will be behind support them [farmers].”
Greene in a passionate presentation to a room filled with Regional Agriculture Ministers and the head table with the Suriname’s Agriculture Minister and Caricom officials said that this, the International Year of the Farmer has been watered down in the Region.
“I am extremely disappointed at the way the region has taken it, all over the world we have been invited to seminars about International year of the Farmer and prime ministers, presidents everybody pushing agriculture, but within the region, farm family has been received with lukewarm feeling, a reflection of how low agriculture is still”
He feels that there are no focused programmes nationally and regionally adding that one week in the year has been dedicated to Farmers and Agriculture for this important year.
“it is a contradiction and I am disappointed”
Dr Arlington Chesney, Executive Director, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute in a short reaction to Green efforts are being made to assess where there region is and where it needs to be when it comes to agriculture. He pointed out that a benchmarking exercise should commence in the few weeks.
“this is to indicate where we are in terms of agriculture, I want to say that if that is to be successful, all of us in this room have to play a part because unless we don’t get the data we can’t get the information to advise what needs to be done”
But even as the farmers make their demands, they are warned of existing limitations. Deputy Secretary General, Caricom, Manorma Soeknandan advised that a more focused approach is needed.
“Our Heads of Government have agree that agriculture is one of our priorities, but what I would like to ask on behalf of the secretariat, that we have a real focused approach and in the context of limited financial and human resources” She said
Ambassador Soeknandan said this focuses approach can guide them on bench marking and value adding to get the most out of the market.