Regional agriculture ministers call for own regular meetings
Suriname — Instead of constantly being facilitated within the agendas of donor agencies or within the framework of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) regional ministers of agriculture want their own regular meeting to discuss developments in the sector.
It is imperative, said Guyana’s minister of agriculture Leslie Ramsammy, that these officials hold their own formal meetings on a regular basis in a bid to strengthen regional cooperation in the field of policy making and implementation. Ramsammy’s counterpart from Antigua and Barbuda, Hilson Baptiste, is of the same view.
According to the Guyana official, regional ministers of health, education and finance were able to mobilize substantial resources from donors to finance programmes for their respective sectors because they meet regularly to discuss strategies and other issues.
“The ministers of agriculture meet only at COTED. Outside of that we meet at FAO-meetings in Rome or IABA meetings. We need to correct that,” Ramsammy said in an interview.
Baptiste added that Latin-American colleagues meet at least twice a year.
“They meet and plan strategies how to approach the donor agencies collectively. What we do is that we allow the donor agencies to invite us to their meetings with their agendas and they tell us what we can and what we can’t do.” Baptiste lamented.
He further argued that, if the agriculture ministers of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states have their own meetings, they can also “plan strategies based on our needs and based on how we want to do it”.
“We can approach the donors collectively with our own shopping list,” the Antiguan official added.
Ramsammy said that, while agriculture “is the pillar on which we build our economies and social development programmes”, the Caribbean has neglected to provide for a structural dialogue mechanism for the ministers of agriculture.
The two ministers participated last week in the 12th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) held in Guyana under the theme ‘Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development’.
The CWA is the region’s most prominent agricultural event which includes workshops, technical meetings, trade exhibitions and competitions related to agricultural developments. The event is co-sponsored by among others the host country, the Holland-based Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Cooperation (CTA), CARDI, IICA and FAO.