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Support available for agricultural based research in the Caribbean

(by Nazima Raghubir)

“It is absolutely critical that research is supported in Caribbean and research has to also be in a sense contributing to the development of the Caribbean”

So says Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) told Insight today, Saturday, as the Media Workshop on Inclusive of Evidence-Based Coverage of ARD issues in the Caribbean ended.

Mr. Hailu’s comment comes on the heels of Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture’s Dr. Leslie Ramsammy’s plea for more funding government funding for research across the Caribbean.

The CTA Director feels that results of the research much be transformative and there should be a marked reason for research and not simply research for its own sake. He told Insight that any research done must be able to transform production, marketing and the livelihood of those involved in the industry. .

As regional stakeholders meet this week for Caribbean Week of Agriculture, the region’s food import bill has a recurring role in food and nutrition agenda.

That food import bill has been tallied at some US$2 billion annually.

Mr. Hailu said that the root of the issue is not only the importation of food in the region but also the fact that the foods imported are not as nutritional and could be linked to the spike in non-communicable diseases.

“There is, for example a need to produce local varieties that are more nutritious, that are more adaptable to the people in region…we got to improve nutritional security …so  research can contribute …”

Is there a role for CTA to advocate for more government involvement in research?

“CTA is always supportive of national and regional efforts and initiatives in terms of policy and capacity building …so if the countries agree to invest more in research or if there is a need to advocate for more research we’d be happy support that.”

On Friday Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy while addressing the opening of the media workshop  said “There is a dire need for indigenous research…We have a poor agriculture capacity research in this region and we need to change that paradigm…I am not ashamed to say …we have a poorly coordinated research agenda …”

Even as the Minister stresses the need for more research allocations from the Government of Guyana to the Caribbean Agricultural and Research Development (CARDI) have not been paid in years.

Speaking to reporters following the Opening of the Workshop Minister Ramsammy said that “efforts are being made to transfer the sums owed to the regional body based in Trinidad. Minister Ramsammy could not say how much is owed.

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