Caribbean agriculture development efforts to fight poverty and hunger will receive a boost of Euro 8,6million (US$11,3m) from the European Development Fund in 2012.
Operation of the Agriculture Policy Programme and the actual disbursement of funds is expected to start in the second quarter of this year.
The fund is aimed to increase the effectiveness of Caribbean agricultural organisations to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture, by promoting and supporting inter and intra-regional trade.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) secretariat, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) will manage the fund.
The Caribbean fund is part of a €20 million EU contribution to an Agriculture Policy Programme with focus on the Caribbean and the Pacific under the 10th EDF programme.
Fifteen countries of the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states (CARIFORUM) – Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic – are prime beneficiaries.
“There is no provision for researchers to access money from these allocations,” Francis Asiedu, CARDI manager for technical services told Research Caribbean.
“The programme is primarily a developmental one and the fund has already been allocated to approved activities under the three Result areas,” he added.
Strengthening of regional agricultural development strategies like the implementation of the Community Agriculture Policy has been allocated €2.86 million, he said.
Improving the dissemination and adoption of agricultural production research technologies through innovative production systems is being supported with €2.89 million.
Contribution to agricultural enterprise development through improved market linkages in the entrepreneurial, marketing, and capacities of small holders has an allocation of €2.85 million.
The programme will focus on roots and tubers, hot peppers, cereals and grain legumes, sheep and goats, protected agriculture and climate change. The control of invasive species, mainly the red palm mite and leaf spot disease of banana plants called black sigatoka are other priority areas.
The organisations driving the programme have already identified partners with whom to implement the activities said Asiedu.
The partners include Food and Agriculture Organisation, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Dominican Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research, University of West Indies, agriculture ministries, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
Youths, women and farmers groups who are under the Caribbean Farmers Network are also on the list.
By providing money for agriculture the notion is to contribute to the enhancement of the Caribbean regional efforts in the agricultural sectors to improve food and nutritional security and promote sustainable economic growth, Asiedu said.
Since 1975, CARDI has been spearheading the agricultural development by conducting research and exposing farmers to appropriate technologies.