Some of the most critical issues impacting the agriculture, food and fisheries sectors will come under the microscope early next month when the Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS) hosts its 47th annual meeting in Barbados.

The conference will run from July 3 to 9, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. It is expected to bring together some 150 stakeholders from across the region, Latin America, the United States and Europe to discuss ways of moving the sectors forward and to highlight some of major scientific achievements in these areas.

Among the topics to be discussed at the weeklong caucus include Crop and Livestock Production, Post-harvest Technology/Agro-processing, Land and Water Resources, Soils and Fertility Management, Fisheries Management, Agricultural Education and Extension, Marketing Economics and Policy Issues, Ecological Engineering, Sustainable Agriculture, Climate Change, Pest Management, and Food Safety.

The theme of the CFCS meeting is Assuring Caribbean Food and Nutrition Security in the context of Climate Change, with the subtheme Productive Agrosystems and Resources Conservation in an island Environment: An Ecological Challenge for Caribbean Sustainable Development.?? It is being coordinated by the Government of Barbados, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Industry and Small Business Development.

Chairman of the Local Planning Committee and Chief Agricultural Officer, Barton Clarke, believes that such a forum will be beneficial for the local agricultural sector and by extension, the region.

He explained that one of the highlights of the conference will be a caucus between farmers, agriculturalists and scientists, with the aim of exchanging information and ideas on research and technology.

"Farmers are going to be afforded an opportunity in a farmers’ forum, which is planned for the Thursday morning, to interact with scientists and to place before them the challenges which they are facing and seek to have some solutions to those challenges. The local scientists will be afforded an opportunity to network with their colleagues and build new bridges as well…," Mr. Clarke pointed out.

In keeping with the theme of the meeting, the Chief Agricultural Officer said issues related to climate change and its impact on food security would be a focal point of discussion.??

Citing the example of the spread of invasive species, he was of the view that climate change had the potential to affect crop production in several ways and as such, stakeholders will look at the challenges these changes could pose for the region and seek to develop workable solutions.

"There’s going to be a symposium on invasive species. One anticipates that such species, their ecology and behaviour, is likely to change in response to climate change and consequently, it is topical for us to look at such matters from a Caribbean perspective, so we can share ideas,…establish a common border and keep some of these invasive species out of the region."

Mr. Clarke added that with changes in climatic conditions, for example, increased drought, Barbados would have to adapt its approach to agriculture and water resource management.

"Scientists are predicting that we will have more drought… which would suggest that we are going to have to make some adjustments in how we manage and use the scarce water resources we have. We also have to look at how we are going to harvest more water, how we are going to apply some of the newer, more efficient irrigation technologies and how we are going to select, introduce and utilise varieties of crop and livestock which are more adapted to dry periods, so we can continue to feed ourselves," he surmised.

According to the Committee Chairman, participants will also explore the adoption of a more scientific approach to farming in the Caribbean, particularly as it relates to the development of agricultural projects.

"We are also going to be looking at an agro-ecological approach to farming, where we are going to be far more scientific in utilising environmental parameters such as rainfall, temperature, humidity, soil chemistry and physics in planning and implementing agricultural programmes," he explained.

Mr. Clarke added that the meeting would be a tremendous opportunity for stakeholders to share their views on issues impacting these critical sectors and as such, he encouraged persons to visit the official website at http://www.cfcs2011barbados.org/ for further details and to see how they can, in some way, contribute to the development of agriculture in Barbados and the Caribbean.


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