The event kicked off with pledges to tackle issues such as non-communicable diseases and youth unemployment
Caribbean Week in Agriculture 2018 got underway in Barbados on Monday October 8th, 2018.
The meeting brings together policy makers, agriculturists, agro-processors and entrepreneurs. For five days, they will discuss the most pressing issues facing regional agriculture and identify solutions to those problems.
They will explore ways of transforming agriculture into a ‘modern, profitable and sustainable business,’ that can create jobs for young people.
The meeting comes amid worrying statistics which put youth unemployment in the Caribbean at 30%, compared to a global average of 13%.
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to host a special session for youth on Tuesday October 9th, 2018. The CTA’s Director Michael Hailu says agriculture can provide jobs for the youth, but young people must see the industry as an attractive employment option.
“If we want to get young people into agriculture, we have to make it much more modern, attractive and profitable. So we have to talk about not just agriculture, but agri-business. The angle that the CTA takes in terms of youth engagement is that we should not treat agriculture as a subsistence sector; we should treat it as a business,” he said.
The theme for this year’s event is “Strengthening Agriculture for a Healthier Future.” IICA’s representative in Barbados Ena Harvey says it emphasizes the importance of developing agriculture to ensure that countries can feed their people. She says it also supports better nutrition practices, by encouraging people to grow and consume more local food.
“For a healthier future, we must have sustainable development of the agriculture sector. According to Agenda 2030, for sustainable development to be achieved, there must be three core elements; social inclusion, environmental protection and economic growth. We must put people at the centre and ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.
For Barbados’ Special Envoy on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) and Chairman of the Barbados National NCD Commission Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, it is time to act on years of knowledge on the critical link between health and agriculture.
“It is estimated that, of 190,000 Barbadians age 20 years and older, 90,000 are overweight or obese, 38,000 suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure, 19,000 are diabetic and at least one person suffers from a stroke or heart attack every day. Cancer of the breast in women and of the prostate gland in men occurs with apparent alarming frequency. One third of our children in the region are overweight or obese……. a first principal role that agriculture should play is in the provision and making available of healthy food such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, grains and fish,” he stated, adding that “there is an urgent need to establish and strengthen food and nutritional goals so that the agriculture and food systems can deliver adequate and nutritionally appropriate quantities of food, especially to low income and vulnerable groups.”
Participants at the 2018 Caribbean Week in agriculture calendar will also discuss school feeding programmes, the future of the coconut industry, the role of women in agriculture and building climate resilience.