Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Agrifood Forum: Innovative solutions for Caribbean-Pacific region

By Bob Aston
An opportunity worth attending takes place in Bridgetown, Barbados from November 2-6, 2015. Some 250 leaders, decision-makers, and agrifood actors will be gathering for the first Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum. A key event for both regions, the action packed week will be devoted to exploring how an agribusiness approach can drive rural development in small island states.
Agriculture is at a crossroads in the Caribbean region. The end of preferential conditions for exports of traditional commodities to the European Union has affected an estimated 500,000 small-scale farmers. The Pacific region shares many of the same challenges, including high food import bills, diseases linked to diet and vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.
Declining service provision plus challenges related to natural resource degradation, climate change, limited financing, heavy food import dependency, and rising nutrition-related diseases, all compound to a heavy negative impact in agriculture’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and partners are organizing a series of work sessions to allow Caribbean and Pacific agrifood players to exchange experiences and learn from each other in addressing these challenges.
The five-day event, with a strong focus on action-oriented approaches and people-centered solutions, will bring together a range of actors from the agrifood system to engage in collective action that can help to spur innovative agricultural and rural development – not just in the Caribbean, but also in Pacific small island development states (SIDS).
The forum will consist of 12 workshops and meetings to run in parallel sessions during the first three days. The workshops and meetings will cover areas that include building a successful agribusiness company, youth entrepreneurship and social media, inclusive value chain development, ICTs for fisheries, policy advocacy for Caribbean and Pacific farmers' leaders, access to finance, strengthening the link between agriculture and nutrition and successful initiatives to counter climate change.
The last two days, the 2nd Agribusiness forum on strengthening the agrifood sector and expanding markets will take place in plenary. Learning journeys, business networking and side events on specific topics, will also take place before, during and after the sessions.
The Agribusiness Forum will highlight main drivers of agribusiness development and looking at business successes in a range of areas affecting the local agrifood. Private sector players, policy-makers, financial institutions, chefs, decision-makers, and agri-business actors will mark the way forward. Participants will be able to learn from successes, and explore new market opportunities with a special focus on tourism-related markets.
A rich array of side events planned throughout the week will showcase innovations in ICTs for value chains, offer training in social media and Web 2.0 tools and examine information, knowledge, and knowledge management resources to support youth entrepreneurship and agribusiness start-up.
Immediately after the Agribusiness Forum, A three-day learning journey of Pacific and Caribbean experts will take place in Trinidad and Tobago with a focus on food processing, branding, and standards. Key institutions and experts with experience with significant capacity and experience in agro-enterprise development from various centres of excellence will host the various visits.
Knowledge exchange will be a central feature of all activities planned during and after the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum. Media coverage and social media reporting will communicate broadly about the events. Follow the event live at  #CPAF15 and #Intra_APP.
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