A quick recap of what is being done and still needs to be done to improve the agricultural policy framework in Caribbean

countries.

Issue # 36 8 May 2006
“Managing alien invasives will become an even greater challenge as we further liberalize and expand trade. New trading arrangements such as the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy will further test resilience, as we struggle to comply with existing trading agreements, such as the WTO." The Honorable Jarrette Narine Minister of Agriculture, T&T (At the Workshop on “Facilitating Safer US Caribbean Trade: Invasive Species Issues, 2 June 2004”

Feature of the Week:
against Invasive Alien Species!

Safeguarding Agriculture

Many species of animals, plants and even microorganisms have been introduced to the Caribbean, either accidentally or deliberately for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are a growing problem in the region, and the number of species has grown enormously as a direct result of expansion of transport, movement of people and trade. The situation is further compounded by trade liberalization agreements such as the WTO and CSME, which increases the opportunity for introduction of new types of species. The introduction of Invasive Species, especially new types such as the Giant African Snail, Pink Hibiscus Mealybug, Small Indian Mangoose and Froghopper, has posed serious threats to Caribbean agriculture in recent years, causing widespread physical damage and economic losses. Invasive species are threatening food security, human health and economic development. They are also threatening livelihoods of the region by adversely affecting agricultural trade, tourism, biodiversity and impeding sustainable development. The capacity to grapple with invasive species at the national level varies considerably across the region. For countries to have proper preventative, early detection, eradication and control measures, greater regional safeguarding capabilities must be created.

Look out for:
The 14th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS), hosted by the US Geological Survey to be held in Key Biscayne, Florida, from 14-16 May, 2006. The conference typically involves over 400 participants from 30 countries representing academia, industry, government agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders involved in the issues and seeking opportunities for cooperation and collaboration to address them. The 9th International Conference on the Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions (EMAPi9), organized by the Weeds Society of WA (Inc.) to be held during the 17-21 September 2007, Hyatt Regency Perth Western Australia.

A Regional Approach to deal with IAS
It has been recognized that the traditional approach of focusing efforts only on national programmes, inspection, surveillance and emergency response to unexpected entry is not sufficient to meet today’s challenges. There must be greater national and regional coordinated efforts among Agricultural Health and Food Safety (AHFS) Agencies, including stronger alliances with the private sector. A good approach/strategy should include these components:

Policy Picks:
St. Vincent & the Grenadines is developing an Invasive Species Strategy along with the University of Florida. A Draft Emergency Plan of Action has been prepared and national training on proper species identification and response completed. Jamaica implemented a Plant Health Surveillance and Response System to undertake proactive surveillance of pest and disease incidence and a collaborative early warning system for identifying and responding to threats of actual incursions of dangerous plant pests.

Building Human Resource Capabilities
Technical personnel need to be trained and have the necessary expertise to ensure effective action is taken to prevent, mitigate and control invasive species.

Interaction with the Private Sector
All stakeholders need to be better informed and aware of the serious danger posed by invasive species and the private sector plays a role in promoting awareness and providing funding to increase awareness.

Proper Legislation
Current legislation should be reviewed and updated to include provisions for mitigating any potential threats, and makes use of principles developed for invasive species by organizations, institutions and countries.

What’s new in Your Agricultural Policy Process? Care to Share?