One of the region’s largest donors is expressing disappointment that after several years of receiving development funding to build capacity for the agriculture sector, Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean continue to struggle.
Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Ambassador Daniela Tramacere said the EU recognized food security was fundamental to the region, and the EU stood ready to assist.
However, she said it was about time that the sector began to bear fruit from all the work that has gone into planning and training over the years.
“It is very painful that after a few years of sustained support to the sector we are not yet at the point where we would like to be. For this reason, I am particularly grateful for this workshop because we do acknowledge that finance is key,” said Tramacere, while calling for a change in production and consumption patterns in the Caribbean.
She was addressing the opening ceremony of a three-day Climate Finance and Support Mechanisms for a Resilient Agriculture Sector in the Caribbean seminar at the Radisson Aquatica today.
She said while agriculture was not a “focal area” of the development portfolio of the EU, a range of agriculture-related activities was being supported including regional integration and climate change mitigation.
She pointed to the €6 million coconut sector improvement project and other schemes in the region that the EU was supporting through the European Development Fund (EDF).
Tramacere also noted that the EU was about to provide a second round of funding for phase two of an Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) project to build on results achieved in a previous €11.7 million project designed to help companies become more compliant in sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
“There will not be a third project I can assure you. It is high time that all the support and capacity building that has been going on in the region bear its fruit. I have been in the region now for almost nine years . . . It is time to move from training and workshops to action,” the EU official insisted.
Stressing that the region could no longer afford to put off implementation of climate-resilient development plans, Tramacere said: “We are living in hard times . . . and we have to be very focused on this.”
She suggested that regional governments plan more for natural disasters by including it in their budgets.
“To maximize adaptation finance, adaptation action and climate action in general, all disasters have to be integrated into the national budget and planning processes,” said Tramacere, while urging agriculture practitioners to play a role.
Meanwhile, one agriculture research specialist urged officials to pay more attention to the projects submitted for funding.
Questioning the amount of funding being provided for the agriculture sector in Barbados and the rest of the region, Ansari Hosein, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI) representative for Barbados, said the region remained one of the most vulnerable to climate change impact though being one of the least responsible.
He said it was therefore critical to always be prepared, adding that efforts would require a lot more funding and collaboration. He proposed that the region go after the funding the same way it did following a hurricane.
“We must respond in that same togetherness to deal with accessing finance for mitigation and adaptation measures,” Hosein told the participants.
“I have heard about significant funding in aid being available from the international community to implement projects in climate resilience including those affecting agriculture. And while there have been many successes in the past . . . it is my view that these have been too few and far in between to get the impact that we need – not what we want but what we need, if we are to survive in the future,” said Hosein.
He argued that while the financing was available in many instances, accessing it could sometimes be a challenge, especially if organisations acted alone.