The Fifth hemispheric forum on Agriculture and Rural Life in the Americas came to a close yesterday (Oct. 29) with ministerial delegates signing a 16-point agreement, which sets out an action plan to boost agricultural production in the region.
Addressing a press conference immediately following the signing ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay St. James, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that the agreement dubbed: ‘The Ministerial Agreement Jamaica 2009’, addressed critical points “relating to a commitment to take a particular course of action within the hemisphere and in respective countries to boost food security as well as to promote development in rural life”.
Dr. Tufton explained that the agreement covers areas such as: production of more and better foods; diversification of the food basket; investing in building capacity and infrastructure in storage and food processing; plant and animal health and food safety; soil and water management; land titling; risk management; agricultural emergencies; and the development of value chain activities, among others.
According to Minister Tufton, the four-day meeting, which was attended by some 300 delegates from 34 countries across the Americas, was intense but rewarding.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, addressing journalists after the closing ceremony of the 5th Hemispheric Forum of Ministers of Agriculture in the Americas on October 29 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay St. James.
He said that the level of ministerial attendance was a record for the hemispheric meeting, reflecting the strong political will to reposition agriculture in the region.
He made special mention of the involvement of the private sector in the discussions, noting that included in the 16-point agreement is the engagement of the private sector in a more deliberate way, towards expanding investment in agriculture.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, in his remarks, said that Jamaica could be justifiably proud of the role it has played in fulfilling the mandate given at the fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago in April of this year, for strengthening agricultural development in the Americas.
Making reference to the economic crisis, Dr. Baugh said that the challenge to the world, and more specifically to the Americas, is to form partnerships, and to focus on the building of capacities in the developing countries.
The ministerial meeting was held in tandem with the 15th regular meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture, which concludes today (Oct. 30) with the election of a new Director General for the Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).