St. John’s Antigua- In the wake of the volatility in food prices, stakeholders in agriculture will be converging in Cuba next week to discuss and create awareness of the importance of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) as a source of food and nutrition.
The event, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), will be held in Havana, where a successful urban agriculture programme has been in place for the past two decades. The programme there meets a large part of the urban food demand.
FAO’s Sub-Regional Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Florita Kentish said the very important seminar will asses UPA’s contribution to urban food supply, nutrition and livelihoods and see how the Caribbean and Latin America can capitalise on the current experience and knowledge.
“The event is being held in view of the recent volatility in food prices which has raised awareness of the importance of urban and peri-urban agriculture as a source of food and nutrition security,” Kentish said during an address at the launch of National Backyard Garden Day on Wednesday.
“In addition to supplying food, UPA generates employment and income for the poor and contributes to balanced national development and gives more of a liveable urban environment,” Kentish added.
The co-ordinator stated further that FAO has assisted the implementation of UPA programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, she pointed out the process is incomplete.
She said in order to unlock the full potential of UPA, a number of important challenges must be overcome, including the need to develop a conducive institutional framework, to identify and address gender gaps and to provide training and extension services to urban producers.
“A review of experiences is needed in order to understand better how to promote urban agriculture in all countries of the region, from small island states to landlocked countries, particularly in the light of climate changes and the risk of natural disasters,” Kentish added.
The seminar, running from May 14-17, is expected to give participants in the Caribbean, Latin America, Brazil, Argentina and Central America the opportunity to share in the Cuban experience.
In attendance will be Acting Director of FAO Gavin Wall who will be giving the feature remarks.
During the 31st FAO Regional Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010, member countries identified the promotion of UPA as one of FAO’s medium-term priorities for the region. Also in 2010, ministers of Agriculture of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) endorsed the FAO-Caricom Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy, which includes UPA.
It is anticipated that Antigua & Barbuda’s participation at the seminar will assist in boosting the country’s vital food production sector.