Rethinking agricultural development: the Caribbean challenge

Rethinking agricultural development: the Caribbean challenge

Caribbean countries can no longer afford to neglect agriculture

The recent food price crisis has increased concerns about food security, reflecting the importance of food supplies in sustaining economic growth. This paper notes that the impacts on the agricultural sector of globalisation are contributing to doubts about the prospects for agricultural development.

The authors argue that:

  • with so many forces reshaping agriculture and with continuing dependence on food imports, a rethink of agricultural development approaches in the Caribbean is necessary
  • the challenge facing Caribbean policy makers is to craft new agricultural development strategies to improve agricultural productivity, boost domestic food production and enhance overall economic welfare
  • however, these desirable outcomes will only be achieved if there are improvements in agricultural and trade policies, infrastructure, transport, land tenure and land management practices
  • in addition, research and extension, and the promotion of producer and marketing organisations that link small farmers to new market chains have very crucial roles

The paper demonstrates the idea of “Sir Arthur Lewis” that agricultural development is an essential condition for economic growth, emphasising that Caribbean countries can no longer afford to neglect agriculture. Moreover, it concludes that:

  • agricultural development strategies designed to realise the links between increasing agricultural productivity and growth in the wider economy in the Caribbean are urgent
  • such strategies will focus on demand and market opportunities, while promoting the inclusion of smallholder farmers in new food markets
  • indeed, the existing initiatives in the Caribbean embody some of these strategies
  • in this sense, with greater political commitment, and monitoring and evaluation of programme implementation, agriculture in the Caribbean can be turned into a dynamic engine of growth
  • in the end, this engine will contribute to food security and poverty reduction
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