Over the years, the Caribbean agricultural agenda has continued to be guided / driven by the sequence of initiatives/reports following the declaration of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, July, 1973. These include the Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture (RTP), and ‘The Jagdeo Initiative’, which was conceptualised to hasten its implementation. Some highlights of the regional agricultural strategy are captured by Norman Girvan’s ‘priorities for regional action’ that are summarised as follows:

  • The upgrading of facilities for intra-regional agricultural trade and transport
  • The strengthening of regional collaboration in agricultural Research & Development as well as increased funding for regional bodies
  • Evaluation of investment opportunities
  • Market intelligence-Sharing of information with respect to the demand and supply of agricultural commodities

The implementation of these actions places emphasis on the generation of appropriate technology products and services in areas of:

  • Post harvest (including cleaning, storage, sorting, packaging)
  • Improved/state of the art analytical and (germplasm) storage equipment, capacity building etc.
  • Information management and distribution

The above actions, when interpreted along with The Jagdeo Initiative’s Key Binding Constraints and the need to increase productivity and production, give urgency and definition to a major role of CARDI in support of the attainment of regional food security and the overall development of Caribbean people. As discussed, mechanisms originating from the spirit of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, that fosters the development of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), must spearhead/facilitate this process.

CARDI and the Technology & Innovation System (TIS)

The application of science and technology within the production transformation process must be innovative and appropriate to be effective. This process must be initiated with an appreciation and understanding of the characteristics and demands of the environment within which it must be applied. The technology generation and transfer process which comprises four distinct but sequential steps are described as follows:

  • Technology generation or adaptation. This is a basic stage at which a technology (system, variety, breed etc.) is identified or selected for application within the environment. This is normally an on-station’ activity
  • Testing. Replicas of the technology are tested on station for desired characteristics and recording of performance observations
  • Validation. This exercise represents the first attempt to take the technology to the wider environment where it is exposed to alternative ecozones, production scales and overall practical applications. This is an ‘on-farm’ activity. This exercise may be followed by the need to return to the field station or promote/expand the application of the technology. Follow up activities may include the preparation of tech-packs, conducting demonstration exercises, etc
  • Adoption. This stage defines the end of the (‘phase’ 1 process) process. It essentially involves the utilisation of the technology by end users (e.g. farmers). This process as perhaps validation is facilitated through collaborative initiatives (e.g. with the extension service system)
  • This process is cyclical in nature as feed-back from extension workers and farmers is continuously needed to restart the ‘technology generation or adaptation’ exercise

In summary, the TIS infers that an efficient evaluation of the source and supply of technology must be implemented and adapted to the peculiarities of the environment. A major responsibility for carrying out of an effective TIS within the region is CARDI’s responsibility as the sole regional R & D institution amongst CARICOM member countries. This accords with the objectives set out in Article 3 of the Agreement Establishing CARDI as follows:

  1. to provide for the research and development needs of the agriculture of the Region as identified in national plans and policies;
  2. to provide an appropriate research and development service to the agricultural sector of Member States;
  3. to provide and extend the application of new technologies in production, processing, storage and distribution of agricultural products of Member States;
  4. to pursue for specified periods long-term research in pertinent areas;
  5. to provide for the co-ordination and integration of the research and development efforts of Member States where this is possible and desirable