News Release issued April10,2008
Imagine a Caribbean in which agriculture is strategic, forward thinking, knowledge-driven and technology-based, and in which farms are modern, technology-intensive, sustainable outfits operated by young people. This is “New Agriculture”, a new vision for Caribbean entrepreneurship proclaimed by The University of the West Indies (UWI) at the launch of AgriTECH Expo 2008: Experience New Agriculture, a national agricultural expo intended to aid in revitalising and restructuring regional agriculture.
“We have heard that in our neighboring Guyana—the rice bowl of the Caribbean—that rice prices are increasing dramatically, and consumers there are significantly affected. We have just witnessed here dramatic increases in the prices of flour and by extension bread, roti and doubles. Are we, as a University, as a country, and as a Region simply hoping that this threatening impact will go away?” said Professor Clement Sankat, UWI Pro Vice Chancellor and Campus Principal (St Augustine), speaking at the launch of AgriTECH Expo 2008, which took place at the UWI St Augustine, Office of the Campus Principal yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
Other speakers at the launch included Professor Dyer Narinesingh, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Agriculture (FSA); Dr Pathmanathan Umaharan, FSA Deputy Dean (Enterprise and Outreach) and Chairman of AgriTECH 2008; Dr Isaac Bekele, Head of the Department of Food Production; Dr Sharon Hutchinson, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics and Extension; Dr Carlisle Pemberton, and Dhano Sookoo, President of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT).
Sponsored by ASTT, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources and BHP Billiton, the Expo will take place at The University Field Station in Mount Hope from Wednesday 16th to Sunday 20th April, 2008. It aims to create a futuristic outlook for agriculture, to showcase the modern technologies driving “New Agriculture”, and to provide investors with opportunities for significant investment in emerging technologies relevant to the region.
Profiled as the first in a series of University initiatives towards achieving poverty alleviation and wealth creation, the AgriTECH Expo comes in the face of rising global food prices and the urgent need to build greater food security within the region. It is part of a fresh thrust to reverse the perception of agriculture in the Caribbean region as menial and unprofitable, a perception that has, arguably, led to poor investment, general neglect and the exodus of young minds from agriculture.
The Expo is, in itself, a significant departure from traditional exhibitions, not least of all because the modern farm setting at the University Field Station will immerse participants in a genuine New Agriculture experience, and provide technology exhibits, live field demonstrations and hands-on training workshops in a range of areas, including Plant and Animal Health, Addition and Marketing, Crop and Horticulture, Sustainable Exploitation of Genetic Resources, and Alternate Agriculture Livelihoods. Workshops focusing on Livestock and Aquaculture, Landscaping, Poultry and Rabbit Production, Value Greenhouse Technology, Nano-gro Technology and Bee-keeping will be conducted by a number of national and international scientists including Dr Rajendra Rastogi of the UWI Faculty of Science and Agriculture, Robert Best of the Caribbean Poultry Association, and ASTT President, Dhano Sookoo.
AgriTECH Expo 2008 comes as the UWI marks its 60th Anniversary Celebrations. Other UWI 60th Anniversary activities related to agriculture include a Caribbean workshop addressing food security in the context of globalisation and an international conference themed, ‘Challenges facing agri-food systems in the Tropics”, both carded to take place in December 2008. In addition, an interactive agri-knowledge website is expected to be launched this year, to bring greater awareness to modern agriculture technologies and share best practices around the region.AgriTECH is open to the public at the nominal cost of $10. (School children gain free entry.)
For more information on AgriTECH Expo 2008, please call (868) 662 2002 Ext. 2318. For workshop registration, please contact the Business Development Unit Secretariat at (868) 662 2686 or 662 2002 Ext. 2318/3327.
ABOUT UWI 60TH ANNIVERSARY UWI
Vice Chancellor, Prof. E. Nigel Harris, is coordinating UWI staff, students and alumni to organise region-wide signature 60th Anniversary events. The Anniversary Celebrations were launched with a formal Opening Ceremony on Saturday 12th January, 2008 at UWI Cave Hill, Barbados. On July 12th to 19th, 2008, there will be a special Convocation Week at UWI Mona, Jamaica, which will include an official reception hosted by UWI Chancellor, Sir George Alleyne, and a formal banquet to be attended by several regional heads of state. As the culmination of the yearlong celebrations, a gala black-tie dinner will be hosted by UWI St. Augustine Campus on December 12th, 2008. Proceeds from all UWI 60th Anniversary initiatives will be channelled into a special UWI Regional Endowment Fund, which will facilitate infrastructural projects across the region. For more information on the UWI 60th Anniversary, please visit www.uwi.edu/60 or contact the UWI 60th Anniversary Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org; or (Tel.) 876 977 0014, Ext. 2525; or UWI 60th Anniversary Secretariat, Office of the Vice Chancellor, UWI Mona, Jamaica.