Regional Agricultural Policy Network launches strategic planning workshop

Trinidad, June 28, 2010.  In 2003, stakeholders within the agricultural sector in the Caribbean, including representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat, agreed on the need for collaboration and participation in the development of a network that would strengthen linkages at the national and regional levels and contribute to cost effective agricultural policy decision-making.  This emerged as the vision of the Caribbean Regional Agricultural Policy Network (CaRAPN), which was established in 2003 with external resources from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and managed and supported by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

The CaRAPN has developed over the years as an open community for all stakeholders in agriculture and rural development in the Caribbean to communicate, share ideas, experiences and information for the benefit of all.  Counting on the support and participation of individuals and institutions across the region, the network has succeeded in meeting some of its objectives towards contributing to the policy analysis and dialogue for collective regional action, through information dissemination and exchange, communication, advocacy and capacity building.

As it stands now in 2010, the challenge of a lack of information and inadequate timely access to this information, which is crucial for policy formulation, decision-making and effective implementation, still exists within the agricultural community in the Caribbean. Given that in 2010 there is now a marked increase in the number of players and projects in the agriculture community – external funds, government projects, private sector, NGOS, quasi-government associations, and good-intentioned philanthropists – as well as increased demands on and expectations of improved sectoral performance, the need to address this challenge is even more urgent.

The CaRAPN’s Medium Term Strategic Planning Workshop, which will be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad from July 27-29, 2010, targets persons interested in moving the process forward, specifically those with the ability to communicate information that needs to be shared for development. It aims to establish the need for a stronger common networking platform to support regional agriculture in its new and evolving contexts. Additionally, the workshop seeks to redefine the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the CaRAPN in the medium term, while developing a modus operandi for collaboration among key strategic partners piloting the common information platform.

As a precursor to the workshop an online electronic survey was launched, which seeks to obtain opinions about agricultural policy networking.  This tool provides an open invitation to anyone who can participate in the CaRAPN as an equal partner and contribute meaning fully to communication flows in agriculture.  The survey can be found on the network’s website

“A common consensus among all stakeholders in the agricultural sector in the Caribbean is key to going forward,” indicated Ms. Diane Francis, Regional Specialist in Policy and Trade Negotiations, IICA and coordinator of the IICA-CTA CaRAPN project.

Initial evaluations of the network have indicated that there are more strengths and opportunities than weaknesses and threats to move CaRAPN to a level of full ownership and participation.  The CaRAPN’s strategic planning workshop is therefore an important step in the right direction.

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