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Thursday, July 27, 2006 

IICA deepens collaboration with public and private sector partners
Web Posted - Thu Jul 27 2006
During 2005, the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) Office in Barbados deepened its collaboration with public and private-sector partners in the agri-food, tourism, and environment sectors, and also established new partnerships for collaboration with the Ministries of Health and Culture.

This point was made in IICAs Barbados 2005 Annual Report: The Contribution of IICA to the Development of Agriculture and Rural Communities.

According to the report, IICAs work in Barbados focused on several on-the ground technology applications, with the erection of a greenhouse in St. Lucy and the establishment of a vermicomposting project in St. Andrew.

The organisation also renewed its efforts with youth, women and organic farmers, providing support for their institutional strengthening and training. IICA also made progress with respect to the manufacture of indigenous craft bearing the Barbados Blackbelly sheep logo. IICAs AgroTourism Linkages Centre recorded five significant achievements in 2005, the first being the approval by the Organisation of American States (OAS) of a regional project in support of AgroTourism linkages in the amount of US$444 000. The three-year project is aimed at strengthening linkages between Agriculture and Tourism linkages in seven countries. The other four milestones were the co-ordination and co-hosting of an international workshop on AgroTourism with funding and support from two European Union (EU) partners during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA); the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between IICA and the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) at the CWA; the launch of a new Distance Learning Course on Agro-Eco Tourism, and partnership with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) on the Culinary Alliance of Barbados.

IICA also provided support to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MAR) with respect to the training of MAR officers in Canada, and sponsorship of their participation in meetings of World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva as well as in meetings in the region dealing with agricultural health and food safety issues. In addition, the institution also supported the participation and training of women and youth farmers and agro-entrepreneurs in several national and regional meetings, covering development and investment opportunities in the Botanicals Industry, Agro-Tourism and Organic Agriculture.

The reports executive summary highlighted the contribution of the IICA and the development of rural communities in Barbados for the year 2005. The results of IICAs programme of work is reported under the following seven areas: Facilitating competitiveness and global trade; promoting food safety and agricultural health; strengthening rural communities; hemispheric integration; developing human capital; environmental management; and institutional modernisation.

The primary focus of IICAs Technical Cooperation Agenda for Barbados in 2005 was on deepening relations with the various stakeholders at the national, regional, hemispheric and international levels through collaboration on interventions that would impact on rural livelihoods. The Offices Agro-Tourism Centre received a tremendous boost to the tune of US $119 000 from the OAS to initiate projects in seven Caribbean countries. Collaboration among IICA, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and Ministries of Agriculture in the Region, resulted in some 105 persons being trained throughout the region in compost production using earthworms. Thirty-one persons were trained in Barbados. The Office remained committed to the Association of Women in Agriculture (AWIA), and the Barbados Agricultural Forum for Youth (BAFY) by supporting their participation at local and regional workshops, while donating computers to AWIA and the Organic Growers and Consumers Association (OGCA) to aid in their organisational management.

A major achievement of the Office in Barbados was its support for the strategic development of three competitive products, namely Barbados Blackbelly sheep, hot peppers and herbals. In the area of Agro-Tourism Linkages, the Office conducted a series of roundtable policy meetings aimed at documenting the policy initiatives, identifying stakeholders, and quantifying the levels of linkage between the two sectors. The Agro-Tourism Committee hosted a booth at the National Agricultural Exhibition  AgroFest, showcasing art, craft and souvenirs produced from Barbados Blackbelly sheep. The AgroTourism Committee also supported a workshop for artisans on the manufacture of craft and souvenirs based on the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep logo. Approval for US$119 000 was received from the OAS for a regional Agro-Tourism project involving seven countries. The official signing of the project took place in Barbados and the programme was officially launched in six countries by the end of the year. In October, during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), the Office coordinated an international Agro-Tourism workshop, funded by the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), and supported by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Government of St. Kitts & Nevis. Eighty five participants were in attendance and a framework for a regional agrotourism strategy was developed.

Additional developments in Agro-Tourism included the inclusion of IICA on the newly established Culinary Alliance of Barbados and submission of proposals to the CHA for a pilot Adopt-A-Farm project for five Caribbean countries. As IICAs nominated representative to the Board of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the advocacy committee of the CHA, the Representative attended Board meetings, and also delivered presentations on the role of linkages in sustainable tourism development.

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