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CARDI hosts workshop on sweet potatoes

CARDI hosts workshop on sweet potatoes

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Wednesday, 26th March, 2008, saw the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) two-day workshop for the formulation of regional sweet potato work programme.{{more}}

The event, held at the Sunset Shores Hotel, saw 17 representatives from countries around the region including Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The resource persons were drawn from CARDI, the University of the West Indies and Ministries of Agriculture.

Chairperson of the opening ceremony Chief Agricultural Officer (ag) Reuben Robertson said that as the Caribbean region tries to reposition its agricultural sector, it is faced with a number of problems and challenges such as climate change and global warming.

Robertson said that the agricultural sector is facing a “serious banging”, and as professionals they must collectively use their intuition and training and turn the adversities faced in agriculture today into “possibilities and success”.

Robertson said that if we are to have a competitive advantage in agriculture we must not follow what everyone else is doing in the developed world. “It must be home grown and self-sustainable,” he said.

The Chief sent a challenge to CARDI to identify and use sweet potatoes to replace some cereals and cereal preparations we import, making the point that sweet potatoes have many nutritious and health benefits.

Robertson noted that the Ministry of Agriculture is looking forward to working to make sweet potatoes a commodity that would to some extent “generate foreign exchange and improve the standard of living of our farmers.” He said that if we see Agriculture as a business, “We have to treat it as such”.

Meanwhile, Dr Arlington Chesney, Executive Director of CARDI, in his opening remarks, said that the workshop developed from consultations with member countries that determined what their priorities in the agricultural sector were, and which of the priorities CARDI could assist them with.

He said CARDI has a number of action plans in place which aim to assist in the implementation of programmes of member countries in the region. He said that through the consultations, they identified four commodities, one of which is sweet potatoes.

He said that the workshop is to find out what is needed to make these commodities “sustainable and competitive”.

He further noted that the competition is not between farmers and processors in the region but between framers and processors outside of the region. With the development of globalization and trade liberation, if we do not work together we would all suffer, he said.(VM)

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