Much more needs to be done to change attitudes and recognize importance of the agricultural industry: CARICOM

Conrad Hunte

NAR: As Governments around the world mapped out strategies that would truly help reduce the ranks of hundreds of millions of people living in abject poverty, the United Nations Commission for Social Development today heard four anti-poverty experts offer ways to keep the ranks of people living without adequate food, clothing and shelter from swelling. Reflecting the day-to-day experiences gathered while working and living in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the panelists offered their views as the Commission opened the second day of its forty-ninth session.  Antigua and Barbuda spoke on behalf of the Caribbean community-CARICOM. Its representative Conrad Hunte who noted that segments of the Secretary-General’s report on Poverty Eradication have shed light on a number of realities that CARICOM muast be cognizant of as the region looks towards poverty eradication and achievement of its social development goals.

HUNTE: One such example is the observation that small and medium-sized farms provide employment to a majority of the population in developing countries, and that the evidence points to domestic urban markets as a key driver of agricultural productivity. This evidence fits in with the push in many of our CARICOM nations to link agricultural production, not only with the captive local urban market, but also with the tourism market. Tourism has become the leading driver of a number of our economies over the past two decades. ..despite our concerted efforts, much more has to be done with regard to changing attitudes so that our people recognize the importance of the agricultural industry and its potential, if efficiently run, to generous profits. This linkage must not only be seen in the light of Member States supplying goods for their own markets, but also being the breadbasket for other developing countries in the region.

NAR: Pointing to documented evidence in more developed nations that “small and medium-sized enterprises employ a large share of both the urban and rural labor force in many countries”, Ambassador Hunte stressed that this recognition needs to drive the region’s push to integrate as many citizens as possible into the recently developed tourism industries in the Caribbean. He said it also indicated a need to promote entrepreneurship-focused on supplying inputs from agriculture to information technology.

HUNTE:  Even as the report recognizes that “familial and other informal social protection mechanisms remain important, we also believe that we need to analyze the relevance of these social arrangements and which ones have the best track record for the development of our societies. The importance of building strong families is key to building strong, successful societies. It is in this fundamental societal unit that character, a strong work ethic and creativity are first and foremost and best nurtured and these are the very elements of a strong and productive workforce. Increasingly in our region as in other parts of the world, we are faced with the growing phenomenon of the feminization of poverty where record numbers of single parents, for the most part women, are the most economically disadvantaged. We also must recognize the vicious cycle that this represents where the disadvantaged continue to maintain the very lifestyle that ensure that they do not take advantage of the opportunities offered in our societies. This factor cannot be overlooked in our quest for sustainable development.

NAR: Ambassador Hunte of Antigua and Barbuda. The week-long session aims to shape new approaches that would filter down to the 900 million people whose lives would still be mired in extreme poverty in 2015, even if the first Millennium Development Goal was reached in that target year, the meeting heard today. That benchmark was understood as a call to end poverty by halving it among those whose income was less than $1 a day, a figure revised by the World Bank in 2008 to $1.25.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’03″ 

Filed under Caribbean News.
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