Caribbean to Benefit from Multi-Million Dollar Assistance Package from FAO


The Caribbean agriculture sector is slated to benefit from a multi-million dollar development assistance package implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aimed at reducing hunger and improving regional food security.
Director General of the FAO Jacques Diouf, who made the announcement at a meeting with Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in Doha, Qatar today, said the region would benefit from an US$8 million assistance programme to facilitate crop diversification and intensification, the development of animal husbandry and the promotion of food security.
A second programme to examine issues relating to regional trade will also be implemented and the FAO will make available, a US$90 million line of credit to the Caribbean Development Bank, for support to the sector.
In his remarks, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson welcomed the FAO assistance, noting that diversification was an imperative for sugar producing countries in the Caribbean, in the light of the proposed changes to the European Union (EU) Sugar Protocol. He noted that the process was costly and the countries of the region would require assistance to diversify ahead of the 2006 date proposed by the EU to implement the changes.
Mr. Patterson argued, that sugar-producing countries in the Caribbean should be given the same consideration as farmers in the EU, as the Sugar Protocol signed at the first Lome Convention was intended to be of perpetual duration.
“We are not asking for special and differential treatment. Give us the same consideration accorded to farmers in light of the WTO (World Trade Organization) ruling to enable us to manage effectively,” the Prime Minister stated.
He noted further, that special consideration should also be given to the vulnerability of Caribbean countries to natural disasters due to their devastating impact on the agriculture sector, while pointing to the need for a re-examination of what crops should be planted in light of the proposed threats. The Prime Minister said environmental protection would have to be promoted at the highest levels.
The FAO Special Programme for Food Security was launched in 2003 and already, 15 countries have signed up to participate.

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