The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is to organise a conference next month to consider the potential in niche markets for Caribbean agriculture, focusing in particular on organic food production.
The conference will be attended by the Prince of Wales, himself an organic farmer, and will aim to identify the advantages for, and obstacles to, the development of an organic food sector in the Caribbean and the need to achieve recognised production standards.
It will also look at how the UK, the EU and the private sector could assist in the establishment of an organic market in the Caribbean.
Expected participants will come from the private sector, including UK supermarkets, banking, retail and distribution sectors, non-governmental organisations, academics, research establishments and technical experts. The Caribbean will be represented by several Ministers of Agriculture, the chairman of the Windward Islands Banana Development Company (WIBDECO) and the private sector, including farmers, suppliers, producers, and trade and advisory organisations. Representatives from the EU Commission are also attending, the FCO said.
There has been a strong shift in opinion about organic production in the Caribbean in recent years, not least because banana-producing economies there have been severely affected by changes in world trading conditions and markets. The prospects for the Caribbean agriculture industry look even bleaker in light of the further liberalisation of the EU markets, and diversification into niche sectors such as organic produce may provide a more stable and viable future for agricultural producers.
The conference will take place on 21 March 2002 in London. For further details, contact Nigel.Dickerson@fco.gov.uk or leave a message with Jan Abbott on +44 207 270 2613.