Youth Entrepreneurship, Food Security among FAO Conference Delegates’ Priorities

Photo: Claudia Gardner Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, chairing day one of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 35th Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Conference being hosted by the Government of Jamaica at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Story Highlights

  • Youth entrepreneurship and investments to boost food security capacity are among the priority areas identified by delegates of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Member States of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who are attending the 35th Regional LAC Conference now under way at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
  • “Our priority areas are ‘more investment to boost our capacity to feed ourselves’ (and) ‘youth entrepreneurship’, because there is a cry all over the conference that the young people are not engaged because agriculture is not attractive enough,” Mr. Stanberry said.
  • Mr. Stanberry said the reports which were presented by the three subregions -- the Caribbean, South and Central America – highlighted other concerns, including the impact of climate change on agriculture in the various countries.

Youth entrepreneurship and investments to boost food security capacity are among the priority areas identified by delegates of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) Member States of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who are attending the 35th Regional LAC Conference now under way at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

Speaking with JIS News on Tuesday (March 6), Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, who chaired the conference’s first two sessions, said these regional commonalities, along with capacity building for farmers, are set to be addressed by the FAO during the 2018/19 biennium, pointing out that the organisation has given a “general indication (of) how they will allocate resources”.

“Our priority areas are ‘more investment to boost our capacity to feed ourselves’ (and) ‘youth entrepreneurship’, because there is a cry all over the conference that the young people are not engaged because agriculture is not attractive enough,” Mr. Stanberry said.

“We had a breakout in subregions – the Caribbean, South America and Central America – where we sat down and looked at our priorities… and reported back this morning on what we want the FAO to focus on in relation to our needs, and they are listening and they will now structure their 2018/19 work programme to reflect what the delegates say here today,” he added.

Mr. Stanberry said the reports which were presented by the three subregions — the Caribbean, South and Central America – highlighted other concerns, including the impact of climate change on agriculture in the various countries.

“Although we are disproportionately affected by climate change in terms of hurricanes, we find that the other two subregions have their own impacts in terms of drought and so on,” he explained.

“People are concerned that to combat the issues of food security, we need more investments in infrastructure (and) in public goods that can make for sustainable agricultural production,” the Permanent Secretary added.

Mr. Stanberry described the conference’s first day as a success. He said Jamaica’s hosting of the event was a plus for Caribbean countries, while noting that there has been record representation in the number of participants attending.

“These conferences have been going on for the last 35 years (and) this is the first time I am told by the FAO that they have had all 33 countries represented and the registration is a record,” he said.

“We are satisfied that the conference is here, because at least we have a chance to focus a little bit more on our Caribbean issues. Usually when you go to conferences, we are sometimes overwhelmed… (and) the fact that the conference is in English is a big help,” the Permanent Secretary added.

The FAO’s Regional LAC Conference is an official biennial forum where Ministers of Agriculture and high-level officials of member nations meet to discuss challenges and priority matters related to food and agriculture as a means of ensuring the promotion of regional coherence on global policies and political issues.

The key agenda items at the four-day conference are eradicating hunger, overweight and obesity; ending rural poverty; and promoting climate resilient sustainable agriculture.

The regional conferences are aimed at ensuring the effectiveness of the FAO’s work, as well as identifying priority areas of work for the ensuing two years.

In addition to Ministers of Agriculture, representatives of regional, intra-regional, international organisations, civil society and the private sector are accommodated as observers at the sessions.

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