Agriculture conference to be held next week

More than 250 delegates from more than 30 countries are expected at the five-day 14th annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture, hosted for the first time by the Cayman Islands, starting Monday, Oct. 24.

Held in association with the Alliance for Sustainable Development of Agriculture and the Rural Milieu, the gathering serves as a forum for the discussion of opportunities and issues facing the region’s agriculture sector.

The theme of this year’s event is “Investing in Food and Agriculture,” and looks set to draw attendees from such widely disparate jurisdictions as New Zealand, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Caribbean.

Irwin LaRocque, secretary-general of the CARICOM, in his message to delegates on the event’s website, said, “As an Associate Member of the Caribbean Community, and as the most recent member of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Cayman Islands has signaled its commitment to Caribbean integration and to the joint pursuit of development goals, which is the essence of our regional movement.”

The conference opens Monday morning at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa. There will also be a marketplace exhibition and trade show at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay at 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27 as part of the conference.

He added, “The theme of CWA 2016, ‘Investing in Food and Agriculture’ speaks to the essential prerequisite for any economic activity. Our economies were once primarily driven by agriculture, and although this is no longer the case in many of our territories, the sector remains a crucial one in terms of providing rural stability, employment, food security, inter-sectoral linkages and export earnings.

The main challenge we face, in terms of revitalizing the agro-food sector, is finding ways of encouraging new flows of investment into agriculture and agriculture-related activities, particularly the non-traditional agricultural sector.”