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A three-day workshop, designed to improve emergency preparedness in the region’s agricultural sector, got underway this morning (Jan. 23) at the Mona Visitors Lodge and Conference Centre.
The workshop, which is sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CEDAR), will take the form of presentations and analysis of good agricultural practices, which can be replicated in the other Caribbean territories. It is targeted at four Caribbean countries, which are highly prone to hydrometeorology hazards. These are Cuba, Grenada, Haiti and Jamaica.
Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, who addressed the opening session, said that the regional workshop would provide a forum for the sharing of outputs documented at national workshops, held in the targeted Caribbean countries.
The meeting, he said, would help to improve disaster preparedness in the various agricultural sectors across the region, by strengthening inter sectoral linkages and co-ordination among small farmers; local government departments; agricultural ministries; and the international community in relation to recommendations for best practices and post emergency rehabilitative programmes.
He expressed gratitude to the FAO for “spearheading yet another initiative to assist the countries of the region, which are most prone to hurricane and other related disasters and to put measures in place to mitigate the kind of damage usually caused to our respective agricultural sectors.”
He pointed out that historically, the FAO’s assistance to the agricultural sectors of the various territories had focused primarily on damage assessment and rehabilitative measures, which aimed at helping rural farming communities to return to self-sufficiency, while restoring domestic production in the shortest possible time.
In his remarks, Albert Shand, Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) noted that the farming community, over the years, has neglected the matter of risk management.
“From year to year, it would appear that the management of disaster and preparation is only taken into consideration at the beginning of the hurricane season and as such, I am truly grateful to the FAO and CEDAR for the resourcefulness and foresight that they have shown in planning to address this issue of risk management and disaster preparedness,” he stated.