Agricultural officials focus on building resilience in the regional sector

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct. 5, CMC -Agricultural officials who have been meeting here, will put forward recommendations concerning building resilience of Caribbean agriculture to natural disasters.
The representatives of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Member States and regional institutions say the  recommendations will be for the consideration of Ministers at their 71st Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Agriculture on Friday.
At the beginning of the day-long preparatory session on Wednesday,Chairman of the Meeting of Officials, Dr. Raymon Nojodimedjo, Deputy Director, Planning and Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries of Suriname, expressed sympathy and support to those who were affected by the hurricanes which left a trail of destruction in the Region within the past month.
At the Special COTED meeting,  the Ministers will also be asked to support the development of the Strategy for Emergency Assistance to the Agriculture Sector, and the establishment of Regional Agriculture Emergency Sub-Committee, for a more coordinated response to disasters in the agriculture sector.
The Special COTED will also address the socio-economic and environmental impact of natural disasters on the Caribbean and the relevance of early warning and forecasting systems; the expansion and improvement of drainage and irrigation structures; and land use policy and legislation to lower the impacts on agriculture.
The Ministers are also expected to look at the establishment of seed banks so that farmers could access farming material following a disaster; an adequate stock of fertilisers; and better facilitating the free movement of agriculture workers to Member States to help expedite the rebuilding process.
Several storms, including two Category Five hurricanes, hit the Region recently, with CARICOM Member States, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, and Dominica, as well as Associate Members, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, being hardest hit.
Category Five Hurricane Irma flattened Barbuda, destroying more than 90 per cent of the island’s infrastructure and as a result, all residents were evacuated to sister island, Antigua.
Hurricane Irma also hit The Bahamas, and stripped some areas of the British Virgin Islands of vegetation.
It pummeled Turks and Caicos Islands, which also was hit by the other Category Five Hurricane Maria.
Maria also caused significant damage to the environment and to the agriculture sector in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Maria directly hit Dominica and devastated the island with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) reporting a 100 per cent destruction of the agriculture sector of the island that has been actively pursuing a green economy. CDEMA said there was “severe damage” to farm housing, irrigation and infrastructure, feeder roads as well as crop and livestock production, in addition to forests reserves and coastal fishery.
Representatives at this meeting say Dominica and Barbuda must rebuild from “ground zero” and have pledged to give the utmost of their technical knowledge as well as assist in resource mobilisation to assist these Member States in re-establishing their agriculture sectors.

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