Caribbean fighting to sustain agriculture

Nassau, The Bahamas – Ways and means to further develop and sustain agriculture and marine resources are being explored at the Sixth Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture conference at the Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort.

On Monday, October 2, Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources the Hon Leslie Miller opened a two-day youth forum on, “Sustaining Agriculture & Marine Resources for the Future”.

The theme reflects the commitment that the region needs to constantly review the impact of its activities on the environment and to ensure that effective programs and policies are implemented to reduce this impact.

Hon. Leslie Miller
Minister of Agriculture & Marine Resources

(BIS Photo: Derek Smith)

The technical workshops will provide the opportunities to discuss responses and strategies to manage the marine and agricultures resources to ensure sustainability for the future.

Official opening ceremonies were held on Wednesday, October 4, for the Meeting of Ministers of Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu. Over 200 delegates from 22 countries were in attendance, including representatives from the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation (CTA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Caribbean Technical and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The Ministers discussed the Jagdeo Initiative, which came out of the 25th CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government held June 2004 in Guyana. It visualizes that by 2015, agriculture will make substantial contributions to economic development and social and environmental sustainability. It will also enable the region to achieve an acceptable and stable level of food security.

Mr. Miller deemed it a milestone for The Bahamas and the Caribbean as dialogue continues on issues, challenges and successes to ensure that resources are sustained for future generations.

He noted that the region was able to sustain its resources as the variably small populations spread through the islands did not impact, to any great extent, the resources’ natural ability to replenish and sustain themselves.

“We in The Bahamas also saw that our resources were naturally sustainable as many of our islands and cays were populated with relatively small communities,” Mr. Miller said. “Our ancestors lived off the land, eating crabs, wild pigs, Hutia, fishing for food and recreation and using the forests and scrubs for boats, brooms, medicine and other implements.”

He said, however, that the region has become major exporters of fisheries products and consequently environmentalists, buyers of marine products and international conventions are calling on Caribbean states to provide scientific support of their management of the marine resources.

During the past 30 years, Mr. Miller continued, the impact of tourism in The Bahamas changed. Once sleepy communities that relied on fisheries and agriculture are being transformed into luxury resorts for high end visitors, he said.

“It is becoming increasingly challenging and complex to manage agriculture and fisheries resources to facilitate access for the various stakeholders,” Mr. Miller said. “We must balance the need for economic development against the exploitation of our marine and land resources not only for food but also for recreation.”

He also suggested programs at the school level should create t he awareness, interests and appreciation of those resources.

“The programs and projects that receive local and international support should facilitate students that choose to study or become involved in agriculture and fisheries,” Mr. Miller said.

Monday’s opening was also addressed by Mrs. Janyne Hodder, President, College of the Bahamas; Ms Beverly Taylor, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Dr Neun Hansjorg, Director, Operations & Integration for the Caribbean (IICA).

Journalists from around the region attending the Media and Agricultural Policy/Jagdeo Initiative Workshop, at the Sixth Annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture, Monday, October 6 at Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort. Amongst them is Mark Symonette, Sr. Information Officer, Bahamas Information Services.
(BIS Photo: Derek Smith)

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