Dominican youth met on Wednesday April 17th, at the Roseau Fisheries Complex Conference room to discuss and strategize a way forward for the development of the regions’ agriculture and to give recommendations to the Caribbean Agricultural Policy.
CARICOM is charged with the responsibility of formulating and preparing the Caribbean Agricultural Policy and part of that process involves the engagement of a wide cross section of stakeholders including youth.
The Caribbean Farmers Network CaFAN, which is a regional umbrella organization for national farmer organizations across thirteen Caribbean countries, was given the mandate to facilitate discussions with young people in CARICOM countries under the pillar dubbed “youth and rural modernization”.
Wednesday’s consultation is part of CaFAN’s overall agricultural development strategy to get more young people involved in the sector and to build agriculture as a viable sustainable business.
Dominica’s Director of Agriculture Ricky Brumant in addressing the opening of the consultation said youth presents the bedrock for agricultural sustainability and it’s important that their input is sought.
He noted that “Agriculture and its succession, its sustainability and its future are dependent on youth”. “I believe we must set the stage for youth to take action, for youth to participate and for youth to belong and work” he lamented.
The Director of Agriculture strongly believes that policy makers should not make plans for youth without their active participation. He noted that “involving the youth on policy issues is relevant”.
“We will involve youth along the chain from the seed to the plate but before that, we will engage them and ensure that they have the technical information that will carry them through” he assured.
Mr.Brumant said it is important that “we banish the notion that youth cannot take their rightful place in society and in the chain of Agricultural production”.
He said further that it’s important that youth present themselves across the table in the discussions and negotiations about agriculture.”
Dr. Nadia Pacquette-Anselm served as main facilitator at the youth consultation on Agriculture. She said the consultation will take the form of panel discussions.
“These discussions will focus on Youth business, Entrepreneurship, opportunities for Youth in Agriculture, Leadership and Advocacy, Agriculture and Schools”.
Dr. Pacquette- Anselm said recommendations by the youth from the consultation will be submitted to the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Farmers Network.
“We have a desired result out of this consultation to receive feedback from the stakeholders to refer those discussions to CaFAN. These discussions will reach the level of the Alliance group of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED)”.
The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is also lending support to the consultation.
IICA’s Technical specialist in Dominica, Kent Coipel expressed optimism that following the consultation, young people would have identified opportunities which will motivate them to get involved in agriculture.
“After today we should have identified some of the opportunities that will attract young people to Agriculture as well as to retain those already engaged in agriculture “he said.
The IICA official noted that during the consultation participants would identify capacity development needs to ensure that the potential benefits are maximized through the opportunities identified at the consultation.
“We would also like to ensure that we outline some mechanisms specifically for the youth in agriculture, to ensure that when they get engaged, they can sustain the opportunities” Mr.Copiel concluded.
Meanwhile Chief Youth Development Officer John Roach who also addressed the opening ceremony welcomed the involvement of youth in the future development of the region’s agricultural sector.
“It has not been the norm to engage the youth at this consultative and decision making level where agriculture is concerned. I am happy for this approach because having been involved in youth for most of my life, the young people of Dominica have given me the reason to believe in them and I am confident in their potential to provide critical thinking and sound policy recommendations for the development of agriculture and any other sector” he said.
Wednesday’s consultation which was held at the Fisheries Division’s conference room saw the participation of youth from organizations such as the Dominica Youth Business Trust(DYBT), the National Association of Youth in Agriculture(NAYA), the Centre where Adolescents Learn to Love and Serve (CALLS) and the Dominica State College( DSC).