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The article below is a production distributed through Panoscope, a series of Panos Caribbean. It is made freely available to your media and we encourage publishing and redistribution, giving credit to Panos Caribbean. We
For further information contact: Indi Mclymont/Petre Williams Raynor, Panos Caribbean. Tel: 920-0070-1, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paramaribo, Suriname. October 8, 2014. Food and Agriculture Organisation expert, Dr John R Deep Ford, is urging increased attention, investment and policy interventions to improve the economic capacity of family farmers in the Caribbean who he says have largely been neglected by policymakers.
‘This is the International Year of Family Farming – a year to focus on policy efforts that impact family farmers and recognise the contribution that they have made to agriculture over the years,’ said Ford, who was addressing the opening seminar of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) in Suriname on Monday.
‘We have neglected our family farms – our approaches have been too technological and economic. Our Green revolution programmes and Washington consensus policies have not served family farms well,’ he said.
Family farming is one of the cross cutting issues being explored at the CWA which runs from October 6-10. It is one of the region’s premier annual meetings on agriculture and for 2014 focuses on value chain development, climate change/climate smart agriculture, policy and strategies for agricultural revitalization and food and nutrition security.
According to Ford, family farming captures much of the Caribbean’s small farmers and provides the backbone of food production for many of the islands even though these farmers themselves tend to be poor.
‘This group which has fed our nations are often in the poorest communities in the country and we want to recognise them all across the Caribbean – in St Elizabeth in Ja, Black Bay in Saint Lucia, St George Valley in Barbados,’ he said, while explaining that changes in policy in the 1980’s had resulted in many leaving family and small farming.
‘They have had good reason to abandon family farms. We have taken away the minimum wage we use to offer – through price bans which used to allow them to bring more to the table. We abandoned it during the 1980’s. We have not supported our small farmers in this regard but more supported large scale farmers to produce,’ he said.
Ford recommended that more time be spent looking at how family farming was defined as distinct from small farmers so that more equitable policies and initiatives could be developed to cater that sector of Caribbean farming.
‘Why is this important? Because we need to target programmes to these farms,’ he said. ‘Family farms are better stewards of the earth. Small farms are more efficient in how it uses resources. We are interested in a better distribution of income in our countries. We must make sure that family farms have enough acreage to make sure that their farming is profitable.’
Similar sentiments were expressed by Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), Michael Hailu, who said that his organisation was working with its partners in CWA to address family farming and other key challenges facing agriculture in the region.
‘The theme of this year’s CWA, ‘Transforming Caribbean Agriculture through Family Farming,’ is not only timely, given that 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming, but is highly relevant to the region’s family farms that contribute so much to its economy and way of life,’ said Hailu.
Both men stressed the value of family farms and Ford especially argued that Caribbean policies need to be strengthened to reflect this.
‘The kinds of polices that are being spoken about is that there needs to be differentiated policies – we can’t treat all farmers as the same – we have used fiscal resources not as effectively as we could have – so instead of doing things with 100% of all farmers we have to target policies more to their specific needs and ask how do we include more small and medium term farmers for family development,’ he said.
The recommendations coming out of the CWA will be fed into the policy process of the Caribbean Community. (END08/10/2014).
CTA Director, Michael Hailu
There is an old adage that says ‘There’s none so blind as those who will not see’. This certainly applies to whoever concluded that there are “only ants on the island” as a result of the trip to Great Goat Island on August 22.
I would like to draw your attention to the things that they did not notice.
1) A landscape essentially unchanged since Columbus visited it in 1493. Coastlines of this type are few and far between in the Caribbean and their value for tourism is increasing rapidly.
2) The complex of dry forests, mangroves, shallow bay, sea grass beds and coral reefs that include and surround the Goat Islands and Galleon Harbour and the free services they provide, such as coastal protection, fish nurseries and support for other natural resources. Each element is important on its own, but it is the juxtaposition of the elements that make them uniquely valuable. Remove or disrupt any part and the value of the whole is jeopardised.
3) The rich diversity of globally threatened biodiversity that the area supports. This includes the endemic cactus that someone observed – but did not recognise, and aquatic and nocturnal species that they could not have expected to see.
4) The rich and diverse cultural heritage on the island, from all periods of Jamaica’s history. None of these things are obvious to the untrained eye on a casual visit, but this does not make them less valuable. Indeed, an economic evaluation of the ecological services provided by Portland Bight Protected Area valued them at more than US$20 million — and that, without any investment at all.
What would the impact of the port be on the rich heritage of the area? As Mr. Kistle noted, it is impossible to say, in the absence of better information about proposed developments.
But as Professor Byron Wilson indicated, the first question is whether the Goat Islands are the best site for this development? Or are there other sites in Jamaica, where the port and logistic hub could be placed with equivalent development costs, the same or better benefits for Jamaica and less severe impacts on the natural environment?
This is the question that Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation has posed to the Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), an international NGO that has experience working on many large infrastructure projects, including the Panama Canal.
CSF is currently coordinating an international team of experts who are carrying out a cost effectiveness comparison of proposals for the port at the Goat Islands and three other sites. The project is funded by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, an international consortium, including World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International. The results are due in September 2014.
As part of C-CAM’s continuing commitment to sustainable development in the best interests of the people and environment of Portland Bight and Jamaica as a whole,
I am looking forward to sharing these results with the rest of Jamaica and promoting an informed dialogue on this important project.
(Executive Director, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation)
BY HORACE FISHER
Panos Caribbean’s long-awaited designation as a Regional Hub for Climate Change Information is now a reality.
The official launch of the hub and information portal took place last Friday (June 20, 2014) at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay, St James.
Panos, a regional communication organisation, does project management work in four primary programmes – Children, Youth and Violence; Public Health and Human Rights, Climate Change, Livelihood and Gender; and Media Development.
Regional Coordinator (Haiti and Jamaica) Indi Mclymont Lafayette declared that the development of the hub is three years in the making.
While the issues around climate change generally are topical, specific information on adaptation is in woefully short supply — despite its critical importance to small-island developing states, such as those that comprise the Caribbean.
“The regional hub is a place where adaptation work is highlighted and key information shared with relevant stakeholders, because, while much more is being done on climate change generally, adaptation issues are still emergent,” Mclymont Lafayette said.
“In the Caribbean, conservation work is being done by a number of organisations, however, there isn’t enough coordination or sharing of knowledge which [has] resulted in the duplication of projects. Therefore, we want to pre-empt this with the mechanism of the regional hub,” she added.
According to Mclymont Lafayette, Panos has worked in the Caribbean for some 20 years, with a geographic mandate that covers 25 independent countries and 13 dependent territories.
She admitted that there is a major challenge reaching all 38 territories, but said that through creative and strategic collaborations, the organisation has been able to partner with a variety of regional entities — including the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies — to advance its work in the interest of the region’s vulnerable and marginalised people.
Meanwhile, the information portal — comprised of a database of journalists, conservationists and other regional stakeholders — has been made possible through funding from the International Development Research Centre and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.
“This is the resource that we plan to make available to key partners, and we have a unique opportunity to chart a course for Caribbean sustainable development. I welcome your partnership and support in this journey as we launch this entity today,” concluded Mclymont Lafayette.
Panos Caribbean commemorates 25 years of working in the Caribbean in June 2011. As part of its activities to mark this significant achievement, the organization has released a short video: “Real People, Real Voices!” which explores some of Panos Caribbean’s recent activities and achievement.
Since its inception in 1986, Panos Caribbean has been working to help empower the most marginalized and vulnerable persons in the region through projects and other activities on issues related to children and youth, public health, media community & environment as well as gender.
There is a lot that we have been able to achieve over the past 25 years and some of our work and beneficiaries are highlighted in the video: “Real People, Real Voices!” which echoes Panos Caribbean’s tagline and motto.
Please take a few minutes to watch and hear the real people of the Caribbean talk about how Panos Caribbean has impacted their lives in real ways through our commitment to empowering people to take action to improve their circumstances, their communities and their lives.