- Some areas of collaboration include the promotion of sustainable approaches for agricultural, livestock, forestry, fishing, and aquaculture production.
August 12, 2023. Dr. Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary-General of CARICOM (Caribbean Community), visited the CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) on August 8 and 9 to learn about the institution's work and identify areas of cooperation.
The official delegation included Gale Miller-Garnett, President of the Board of Directors of CATIE, Wilmott Garnett, IICA representative in Guyana, Shaun Baugh, Director of Agriculture Programs for CARICOM, and Carlos Araya, Director of Business Development, Resource Mobilization, and Strategic Alliances at CATIE.
During the visit, senior officials had the opportunity to learn about some of the research carried out by CATIE in various fields and how the results are used to achieve transformative changes in food systems, including work on food security and nutrition, sustainable and low-carbon livestock systems, genetic improvement of coffee and cocoa, sustainable agroforestry systems, adaptation and mitigation to climate change, sustainable water harvesting, economic valuation of ecosystem services, and climate financing.
The Director-General of CATIE, Muhammad Ibrahim, expressed gratitude for the visit by the Secretary-General and highlighted the numerous points of convergence for future collaborations with the Caribbean, given their shared concerns.
He mentioned, "We shared examples of the impacts of our work on improving the livelihoods of rural communities, such as the ACTIVA program, which is generating results on how young people, with a gender focus, participate in green business entrepreneurship."
The Secretary-General emphasized that she had long looked forward to getting to know CATIE, and this moment was opportune.
She also emphasized that the problems in the islands of the Caribbean Sea are not very different from those in the Central American Caribbean. "Environmental problems, soil quality issues due to saltwater, erosion problems, and all those things are common, and therefore, we want to work with institutions like CATIE, where we can share experiences, knowledge, learn from each other, and work together more effectively," she commented.
The Director-General and the Chair of CATIE's Board of Directors presented a recognition to Dr. Barnett for her support in sustainable development in the Caribbean islands.
50th Anniversary Celebration of CARICOM and CATIE
Both CATIE and CARICOM are celebrating their 50th anniversary of creation. Given this coincidence, Gale Miller-Garnett, Chair of CATIE's board of directors, highlighted that the moment is propitious to combine the experience of one with the expectations of the other party.
"Together, we have 100 years of work in our respective areas, as CATIE is an institution that operates in Latin America and the Caribbean, and now we can expand our work in the Caribbean by establishing goals, expectations, and how we can create a better environment in the Caribbean," she explained.
The CARICOM Secretary-General and the representative from IICA had the opportunity to visit the genetic collections of coffee and cocoa, as well as the climate-smart livestock model to learn about the research in both cases and its innovative results, along with the caprine and agroforestry module of the AGROINNOVA project.
A field visit to the NORTICO agroforestry cocoa farm was also conducted to showcase examples of how CATIE's work is being used by local producers for cocoa production and in the value chain to produce fine chocolate.
Additionally, Mariela Leandro, the current Dean of the Graduate School, presented the doctoral and master's programs, as well as the training programs. The guests had the opportunity to interact with first and second-year students to learn about their motivation for coming to CATIE and their experiences with the study programs. This gathering took place at the Orton Commemorative Library, where they also learned about the history and significance of this facility during a tour of its installations.
The special guests were honorary witnesses at the inauguration of a commemorative mural for CATIE's 50th anniversary, which was created by the Turrialba designer, Carolina Araya.
The artwork is located on the main wall of the building that houses the Leather Reutilization Program, an association of CATIE with Southwest Airlines and their global sustainability initiative, "Repurpose with Purpose" (RwR).
Gale Miller-Garnett expressed that the artwork provides a significant connection within the framework of CATIE's 50-year existence and reflects, for example, the commitment to indigenous peoples, Central America, but also to more distant countries such as Jamaica.
Subsequently, they visited the workshop to learn about the stories of the people who work there and how they manage leather. Most of them are women from the rural areas of Turrialba who aspire to enhance their skills and quality of life.
Mutual Cooperation Agreement CATIE y CARICOM
During the visit, the Director-General of CATIE and the CARICOM Secretary-General signed a memorandum of understanding with the aim of establishing the basis for cooperation between both entities, with the purpose of supporting and enhancing the integration, balanced economic development, and social progress of the Caribbean region. Both parties seek to work together on projects and programs that contribute to reducing rural poverty and promoting sustainable development.
Some of the areas of collaboration being planned include the preparation of proposals for financial support for regional projects through international funds. Additionally, support for rural development, soil recovery, sustainable agricultural and livestock production activities, promotion of sustainable approaches to agricultural, livestock, forestry, fishing, and aquaculture production are also on the agenda.
The promotion of sustainable livestock systems for ecosystem services, the evaluation of coffee and vegetable varieties in terms of quality and viability under different conditions, the creation of manuals for sustainable family farming practices, as well as addressing natural resource management, adaptation to climate change, and risk management, are also of interest.
Lastly, within the interests is also the promotion of territorial planning and applications of geographic information systems (GIS) for resource management.
About the CARICOM Secretary-General
Dr. Carla Barnett is an economist. She became the eighth Secretary-General of CARICOM on August 15, 2021, and the first woman to hold that position. She is the first woman to be appointed Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Belize and the first woman and youngest person to be designated as Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM. She also served as Vice President of Operations at the Caribbean Development Bank.
This international center has been a benchmark for sustainable development in areas related to agriculture and natural resources management in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through a combination of education, research, and external projection, CATIE has contributed to the increase of human well-being and the reduction of rural poverty in the region.
Director of Business Development, Resource Mobilization, and Strategic Alliances
Esteban Rodríguez Zamora
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