Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says that greater use must be made of science and technology to improve the competitiveness and viability of the region’s agricultural sector and ensure food security.
Dr. Tufton was addressing the opening of the 2009 Caribbean Regional Science Technology and Innovation Workshop yesterday (Sept. 23) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
He said that given the challenges of population growth, climate change and water management, Caribbean Governments must seek new and improved ways to increase agricultural productivity and feed their populations.
He noted further that the dislocations created by the loss of preferential trade arrangements “now place a greater burden on our Caribbean territories to compete rather than to be guaranteed a market and places an additional strain on our respective societies and economies to provide a livelihood for our people.”
Dr. Tufton stated that a policy framework, driven by Governments within the region, must be developed to encourage innovation and creativity in agriculture.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton (left), listens to a point from Executive Director, National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), Merline Bardowell, while Senior Programme Co-ordinator at the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, the Netherlands, Judith Ann Francis (right), participates in the discussion. Occasion was the 2009 Caribbean Regional Science Technology and Innovation Workshop held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on September 23.
This policy framework, he stated, must recognise the critical link between scientists and farmers. “As a region, we need to do more in understanding the marketplace, and use that understanding to define the research agenda, and to contextualise the existing technology to our own challenges,” he stated.
In the meantime, he welcomed the staging of the workshop, noting that it recognises the value of agriculture in the economic development of a country.
Among the main objectives of the workshop are: to review and analyse strategies and promote successes in agricultural research, education and entrepreneurship in the Caribbean; identify best practices and new opportunities for education, research and entrepreneurship; and identify and prioritise policies and strategies for enhancing research and innovation to spur growth in Caribbean agriculture and agri-business.
The three-day workshop concludes on September 25.