Press Release: – Seventy agriculture officials from across Latin America and the Caribbean will gather for two days from 14 – 15 September 2017, to discuss how the region can strengthen sustainable agriculture and rural development through innovation, at the 11th Regional Planners Forum on Agriculture. This meeting will be hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados under the theme: Innovation Systems for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development.
A key expected outcome of the meeting is an action plan framework that countries can use to develop and implement leading edge policies and institutional mechanisms at the national level to advance their agricultural sectors and reduce poverty in rural areas.
The forum will focus on four areas: Financial Instruments, Investments and Institutional Strengthening; Climate Smart Agriculture; and Value Chains and Access to Inclusive Markets. Recommendations from the meeting will be presented at the Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Ministerial meeting, to be held next month in Guyana.
Innovations in agri-food systems have allowed the agricultural sector in developing and developed countries to make leaps in the quantity and quality of food production. The process is designed for farmers, marketers and agro-processors along the value chain to improve their production practices, with the involvement of the private and public sectors, civil society and developmental partners.
Higher levels of adoption of innovations in agriculture lead to improvements in productivity, competitiveness, trade, income generated by the sector, sustainability and reduction of the region’s food import bill. The forum is therefore a key activity to map the growth and expansion of the agricultural sector of CARICOM and the realization of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The forum dialogue will also focus on how policies and mechanisms can support the reduction of rural poverty as well as levels of food and nutritional insecurity in countries around the region. This complex problem requires a systematic and innovative approach especially in the context of a strong growth in food demand and climate change, with increasing pressure on natural resources.
To help improve the performance of the agricultural sector around the region, particularly small farmers, participants will highlight lessons learned from existing innovations that contribute to sustainable and inclusive development of agriculture and rural sectors and their implications for policy makers.
Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of current innovations is important to promote improved productivity and investments at different levels, as well as to guide the support to institutions, commercialize value-added products, and ultimately increase farmers’ incomes and wellbeing.
Some of these considerations and their role in shaping public policies and strategies that are beneficial to agricultural and rural stakeholders will be discussed at the meeting. They include: access to new financial and transportation services; promotion of more inclusive markets and buyers and sellers platforms; removal of non-tariff measures and barriers to trade with an emphasis on measures to protect against disease, pests and contaminants; access to human and technological resources; management of knowledge networks; promotion of good practices; building stakeholder trust in agricultural innovation system to support collective action; and, adaptive capabilities of family farmers to face external shocks (economic and environmental).
This year’s Forum on Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development is a follow-up to the 2016 FAO Second Regional Forum on “Innovation Systems for Sustainable Rural Development”, where stakeholders discussed, reflected on and analyzed innovation based on its impact in rural areas, with an emphasis on family farming and the democratization of innovation systems.
This year’s event was developed through a collaboration between the FAO and the CARICOM Secretariat with support of the members of the Agriculture Food and Nutrition Cluster (AFNC). It supports the FAO’s commitment to the implementation of the 2017 Action Plan of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Working Group on Family Farming and Territorial Rural Development and contributes to CELAC’s Food and Nutritional Security Plan for the eradication of hunger by 2025.
Source/St Lucia Times