Roseau, Dominica– June 10, 2010……… Ministers of Agriculture of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States(OECS) have agreed on a number of decisions aimed at taking agriculture in the sub-region to a higher level and building greater synergies between agriculture and tourism.
An OECS Ministers of Agriculture Meeting took place in St. Kitts and Nevis from May 31- June 1, 2010. Dominica was represented by the Hon. Matthew Walter, Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Samuel Carette and Tourism Consultant, Mr. Sobers Esprit.
Dominica’s Agriculture Minister called a press conference on Monday to brief the media on the Meeting.
According to Hon. Walter, the Ministers mandated the OECS Secretariat to further develop the proposed new programme priorities for OECS agriculture to include:
- Identifying a set of agriculture products in which the OECS region has a competitive production and trading advantage
- Identifying and targeting appropriate private sector operators, including financial institutions, for the establishment of partnerships
- Reducing the high costs of agricultural inputs , in particular fertilisers and feeds through joint procurement
- Risk Management, including introducing and strengthening insurance arrangement for crops, livestock and fisheries
- The cross-cutting need to put measures in place to ensure preservation of environmental integrity
The OECS Agriculture Ministers also mandated the OECS Secretariat to formulate regional projects for submission under the AID for Trade initiative to support the implementation of the proposed new agriculture programme priorities.
The Ministers also agreed that the processes established by the Caribbean Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), including those that are to be strengthened under various regional projects will be used as the framework for the harmonisation of standards required for the implementation of a Quality Seal for goods and services produced within various agriculture-tourism value chains in the OECS.
The OECS Agriculture Ministers noted the results achieved under the project, “Promoting Agri-business and Food Safety in the Eastern Caribbean”.
In that regard the OECS Secretariat has been mandated to mobilise resources to expand the scope of implementation of the Agri-business and Food Safety project to all OECS Member States ,through replication of good practices and provision of support to both regional and country-specific priority agri-business products.
At the May 31st –June 1 meeting, the Ministers mandated the OECS Secretariat to within a three month period, identify priorities and estimate the cost of implementing those recommendations arising from the OECS Shipping Study that are pertinent to the expansion of intra-regional trade in OECS agriculture products.
Another major decision taken at the meeting was the mobilization of resources by the OECS Secretariat to undertake the necessary demand studies which would serve as the evidence base for the identification of agriculture products to be targeted for production and sale to hospitality, cruise and export markets.
The OECS Secretariat has also been mandated to organise an agriculture-tourism trade show, involving major buyers and sellers to showcase and promote new opportunities for OECS products to penetrate the identified tourism-related markets.
The Press Conference was also addressed by Mr. Sobers Esprit, Tourism Consultant who spoke about a new dispensation in the OECS with respect to the building of synergies between agriculture and tourism.
Mr. Samuel Carette, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture chaired the press conference.