FAO Caribbean head supports revitalizing regional agriculture

| October 16, 2014

World news. Paramaribo, Suriname, October 10, 2014 – The critical role of policy development and implementation in the process of revitalizing agriculture sectors in the region was highlighted in a workshop on governance and public policy held at the Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2014 in Paramaribo, Suriname.  In a comprehensive presentation to workshop delegates, Dr. Deep Ford, Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), led the dialogue calling for differentiated public policy, improved governance and increased public and private sector investment synergies.

In highlighting the need for agricultural revitalization, he reinforced the role that a dynamic and productive agriculture sector can play in addressing some of the challenges facing countries of the region, including food security, incidence of poverty and the increasing impacts of climate change.

“Coherent and inclusive policy frameworks, including policy instruments, will be essential for agriculture to be a key economic growth driver which will enable sustainable food and nutrition security at the regional and country level.”  Dr. Ford said.

Dr. J.R.Deep Ford, Subregional Coordinator for FAO in the Caribbean

Dr. J.R.Deep Ford, Subregional Coordinator for FAO in the Caribbean

He cited the Caribbean Community Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019 which was prepared through a process of wide consultation and was recently adopted at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in July 2014.  This document identified agriculture as a key economic growth driver.  He indicated that this document called for targeted time-bound interventions to stimulate domestic food production and inputs.  Dr. Ford suggested that priority areas for policy development may include establishing regional indicators for targeted reduction of the food import bill, targeting select commodities for development based on their potential competitiveness, and advancing exports by investment in agri-food initiatives.    A review of regional and national policies indicate that while policy is well developed, there is a clear need to develop differentiated approaches given the diverse nature of the farmer base.

Dr. Ford also shared best practices in development of public policy using the case of Chile through which he highlighted that public policy needs to be more focused and proactive.  Complementary mechanisms to ensure policy success should also be simultaneously implemented.  As an example, he pointed to land access programmes without access to credit and technology as being a shortcoming in many countries. Additionally, the continuity of public policy that functions, from one political regime to another, is important to promoting confidence and trust in institutional processes affecting agricultural incentives and opportunities.

The workshop concluded that public policy matters need to be targeted and differentiated, stable and yet responsive to changing circumstances.  Finally, Dr. Ford emphasized the importance of wide consultations in developing and implementing policies, especially those that would be affected by the policies.

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