Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization Graziano da Silva and Chairman of the 35th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hon Karl Samuda, at the conference held March 5 to 8, 2018 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Jamaica.
With a commitment to pay increased attention to helping the region achieve the goals of zero hunger and malnutrition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations ended its 35th Session of the Regional Conference for the Latin America and Caribbean Region at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday, March 8.
In his closing remarks to the conference, Director General of the FAO Dr José Graziano da Silva thanked chairman of the conference, Hon. Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agricultural and Fisheries, for having hosted a very successful conference.
For his part, Mr. Samuda said it was a signal honour to have hosted the conference and thanked the FAO on behalf of the Government and people of Jamaica for the opportunity to have done so.
Mr. Samuda said the discussions had been very constructive and thanked the entire conference team for having so successfully managed the process.
Speaking later to journalists in a media conference, Director General da Silva said the Montego Bay Conference was historic and that its achievements may be equaled in future but never surpassed, given the fact that for the first time all 33 member nations had attended.
Commenting on the issues of climate change, the zero hunger and malnutrition goal as well as rural development targets, Mr. da Silva said he was optimistic about the future. He said that the conference had served to reaffirm the goals of the FAO and that the indicators were that there should be an upturn in economic growth in 2018.
In his statement to the closing media conference, Minister Samuda emphasized the link between energy security and food security.
He reiterated the call from Caribbean member states for increased access to grant funding to build climate resilience and lauded the signing of a Letter of Intent between Mexico and FAO.
(See full text of Minister Samuda’s Statement below)
Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries
Statement by Minister Karl Samuda CD, MP
On behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, it has been our honour to host the 35th Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean. As a nation, we are honoured to have welcomed representatives from all 33 countries to our island for this conference.
We are a community of diverse cultures. We vary in size, language and stages of development, however, through our membership in the FAO we have shown a commitment to sustainable agricultural production so that we can achieve zero hunger and end malnutrition. Despite this commitment, there is a need for greater unity and support as it relates to trade within the region. The only way that we can overcome these difficulties is through collaboration and cooperation. It is therefore critical that we cooperate with each other in an effort to find common ground on issues that have caused problems in the past.
Climate change is one of the biggest threats that we face as a region. Here in the Caribbean, climate change is not a theory. We see it, we feel it and we know it. Its impact is evident on our farms. It is therefore critical that we work quickly to implement more climate smart agricultural practices in our countries. We must educate our farmers on the need for protective agricultural practices so that we are not as susceptible to changes in the weather. There must also be a concerted effort to attract and increase investment in climate-smart agriculture.
Countries in the region have called for greater access to grants for these initiatives and I believe it is absolutely critical. We are pleased that the FAO has committed to working with member states to guide them through the process of accessing much-needed grant funding that will go a far way in building their capacity to fight climate change.
The Mexican Government also signed a Letter of Intent with the FAO to strengthen the capacities of small island developing states in the Caribbean for resilience to climate change. Mexico has demonstrated in a material way how we can enhance the development of all our member states but in particular smaller and less developed countries through cooperation and collaboration.
Yesterday, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, mentioned the link between energy security and food security in his address at the conference’s opening ceremony and I cannot stress enough how important the point is. The cost of energy varies significantly in our countries, however, we can use climate change to our advantage by utilizing more renewable energy sources such as solar energy on our farms. By extension we will reduce the operational costs in agriculture and thus increase food security.
This conference has dealt with serious issues, but it has also been celebratory. We have celebrated the 40th anniversary of the membership of some of our member states and as the world commemorated International Women’s Day, we celebrated women for the significant role they have played in agriculture and rural development.
I want to pause to acknowledge local and international organizers of this conference. This has truly been an excellent conference.
It has been my pleasure to chair this conference and work with the over 300 delegates who have participated. It is my hope that the decisions taken here over the course of this week will lead to real and lasting changes.
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The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) has been charged with the responsibility of driving the integration of the production of primary agricultural produce along all the stages of the supply chain through to value added and facilitating full commercialization of outputs of the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors.
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