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FAO steps up its partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank

04/06/2018

FAO and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) are committed to helping Caribbean countries reposition agriculture toward more inclusive growth, prosperity and sustainability.

The two organizations signed a new agreement signaling their renewed commitment during the 35th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean in March.

FAO had initiated a study earlier on the state of food and agriculture in the Caribbean – identifying key agricultural trends in the Bank’s borrowing member countries as well as investment opportunities.

The study’s results – initially focusing on Jamaica, Guyana, Grenada and Haiti – will feed into and guide the preparation of the Bank’s new agriculture strategy.  

The FAO Investment Centre is working closely with colleagues from FAO’s Agricultural Development Economics (ESA) division and Subregional Office for the Caribbean (SLC) on the study, said Roble Sabrie, an FAO economist and study team member.  

“We want to understand the transformation agriculture is currently undergoing in the Caribbean, how it is evolving from classic export crops, like sugar and bananas, and where the sector can reinvent itself. ESA, with its wealth of experience in analyzing the state of food and agriculture, is really well placed to contribute to this process,” he said.

“We’re taking into account the impact of climate change on the sector, from hurricanes and tropical storms, to drought and erosion, which are huge challenges for the Caribbean. We’re also looking at other issues like tourism, job creation, especially for young people, and trade. Many of the countries are small island nations, so trade is really important for their agricultural development,” he added.

Policy, investment and consultative powerhouse

FAO’s partnership with the CDB dates back more than three decades. This new agreement positions FAO as an agricultural policy, investment and consultative powerhouse – driving discussions on key issues for the Caribbean such as agriculture’s economic potential, productivity growth, competitiveness, export promotion and import substitution, food losses, nutritional education and climate-smart agriculture.

The agreement also means that countries with common membership in both organizations are now able to directly engage with FAO and the CDB to obtain and execute loans or grants.

“The CDB is a regional bank, and the member countries feel it is their bank. You can really sense that strong connection,” Sabrie said.

Making a difference

The study has been a collaborative effort from the start, involving local stakeholders, including the University of West Indies – the top academic organization in the Caribbean – and institutions such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with FAO SLC taking a leading role.

FAO presented the study’s preliminary results to these and other stakeholders during an April workshop in Barbados. It is now integrating the findings into the report and will share the first complete draft with the Bank shortly.   

The study team has also drawn on lessons from other FAO partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and its work in preparing strategies for transitional countries in Eastern Europe.

“Obviously the Caribbean is a totally different region, but the CDB is interested in learning from others –  how they can improve and where they can invest to really make a difference,” Sabrie said.

“We’re pleased to be using FAO’s knowledge to influence the Bank’s investment in agriculture, and we hope this major strategic work will enhance our collaboration in the years to come,” he added.