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Extracts from the citation honouring Renwick Rose – Part 2

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Fri, Jul 19, 2011

The following are the concluding extracts from the citation honouring columnist Renwick Rose, done by Ms. Joan French, retired UN administrator and first Coordinator of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) at the Pegasus Hotel, Guyana, June 29, 2011.

Renwick Rose has spent more than half of his socially-active years with the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA), with whom he was employed from 1989 to 2011. He was first employed as Programme Officer and was later appointed as the Coordinator of WINFA, which is an Association of Caribbean Farmers in the Windward Islands and agro-processors and was responsible for the management of the organization.{{more}} He spearheads WINFA advocacy and lobbying efforts and in that capacity has represented the organization, his country St. Vincent and the Grenadines at many international fora on trade and development over the past 20 years.

In 1992, the then Coordinator headed a delegation of farmers who went on a fact-finding mission to the United Kingdom. He has been particularly involved in the advocacy work on bananas and has made representation to various bodies and committees of the European parliament, the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and Netherlands, The European Commission, various European Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Development, the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the ACP Secretariat. Similarly, in the Caribbean he has been involved in advancing and lobbying activities, including making representation to the CARICOM Heads of Government. He was also part of the delegation of Windward Islands Heads of Government to the United Kingdom.

Not only was he involved in negotiating for greater market share for bananas, but as early as 1994, had the responsibility to lead WINFA in a direction to diversification of its production and broaden its scope with the increasing levels of trade liberalization, which, at the time, would have hampered the banana industry. There was collaboration between the Georgetown University and WINFA and in 2002 they participated in a joint project called the ‘Development MarketPlace’. Through his efforts, both entities submitted joint projects to the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank. He also attended meetings organized by the US Business Interest Section and government officials in Miami and also addressed US Trade Representatives at Capitol Hill. He also attend meetings organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat and Foundation, as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) over the issues of food security and sovereignty.

As a visionary, he had positioned WINFA to withstand the external shocks brought on by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) challenge to the EU banana regime, where Caribbean farmers had enjoyed preference treatment of the bananas being exported to the United Kingdom. They were also made aware of the impact of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Caribbean, while at the same time opening up their access to market opportunities (FAIRTRADE) at the international level that allow them to sustain their livelihood and quality of life in the engagement with policy makers and sector officials.

Later, WINFA teamed up with OXFAM GB in a collaboration venture called the Market Access Initiatives in St. Lucia, as part of the diversification effort in order to create intersectoral linkages between Agriculture and Tourism. The project was successfully implemented and the small vegetable farmers’ cooperatives have benefitted through this initiative.

Rose has also created the enabling environment for WINFA to contribute to the building of more gender sensitivity in the decision making and programme efforts of the organization and its member groups. He sought to influence public policies on agriculture and rural development to ensure that policies are gender sensitive, to allow for gender equity and justice, so as to empower and bring benefits to women and the rural communities.

He has led banana farmers, especially the women, through the streets of Barbados, St. Lucia and Dominica to protest against the lack of real support for development and for inclusion in the rounds of negotiations towards a Caribbean Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. These activities included marches and rallies under the themes: ‘MAKE TRADE FAIR’ and’ STAND UP- It’s about Livelihood.’

Mr. Rose attended several activities (Fairtrade Fortnight) organized by the International Fairtrade organisations in the United Kingdom and Europe in Europe, including the Fairtrade Foundation and the Fairtrade Labeling organization, to address consumers of the fairtrade products and promote the fairtrade concept to policy makers and other key stakeholders. He has held talks with Ministers of Agricultural and Trade, the Supermarkets, as well the European trade representatives on bananas. Through his networking efforts, WINFA is affiliated to the European Banana Network, an organization which played a pivotal role in bringing together all the key stakeholders in Bananas at two International Conferences. Over the years, he worked closely with Alistair Smith of Banana Link aimed at bringing support to the Islands.

He played a crucial role in bringing to the fore issues relating to Caribbean bananas and was instrumental in organizing the Banana Action campaign at International Cricket games in St. Vincent and Barbados. He also served as Chairperson of the Banana Advisory Committee on the Restructuring of the Banana Industry.

He pioneered in the export of Fairtrade and negotiation Contract (the Sales and Purchase Agreement) along with WINFRESH on behalf of WINFA. Today, the farmers of the Windward Islands are in control of the Banana Industry, bringing millions of dollars in revenue into the Windward Islands and this is what they had to say: “The Board of Directors wishes to state that every member and farmer in the Windward Islands appreciates your contribution to the development of WINFA, its membership, the agricultural sectors … and by extension, the national Development of these Windward Islands.”

They further go on to state “You indicated that you were pleased to be associated with WINFA, an organization that is ‘the finest manifestion of farmers organizing to play a leading role in helping to shape their own destiny’, and this we believe has been accomplished through your leadership, hard work and dedication to the cause of farmers and the farmers movement. Further we believe that your influence has extended far beyond the Windward Islands and the CARICOM Region to Africa, the Pacific and Europe; where governments and our partners in development can see and understand the vision you have for the development of our agriculture and our people”.

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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