... begins islandwide consultations to promote new initiatives
Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer
THE MINISTRY of Agri-culture and Fisheries on Tuesday launched a series of stakeholder consultations in keeping with its decision to better utilise global information systems (GIS) as a decision-support tool in expanding its food health and traceability infrastructure.
Dwight Uylett, principal director, policy coordination and admini-stration, explained the rationale for the initiative during the meeting at the ministry's Hope Gardens office.
"We have a lot of intellectual material as far as GIS is concerned, and we also have a lot of intellectual capacity and what we want to do is to bring all the minds together to have a meaningful discussion as to what is the best way to go forward."
He said the series of workshops will seek to determine stakeholder needs and how best to strengthen the capacity of the Rural Physical Planning Division (RPPD) to respond and forge partnerships.
He told Tuesday's meeting: "The use of GIS is very critical as we move forward, especially with all the global initiatives taking place with food security. We want to be also able to pursue a deliberate export strategy and in mainstreaming critical activities such as climate change adaptation considerations to our programmes, polices and production processes."
GIS is a computer-based system used to store and manipulate geographic information. On Tuesday, representatives from different agencies agreed on the need for more collaboration to avoid duplication, reduce cost and time in ensuring a more seamless and structured approach to meeting their individual and national objectives.
In a colourful and informative presentation, Dr Glynnis Ford of the agriculture ministry showed examples of practical application of the technology. Citing the need for wider consultation with the private and public sectors, she said the whole matter of agricultural land management was critical to the project.
The discussion that followed highlighted some of the challenges in getting accurate, up-to-date information, with the prohibitive cost of data gathering being a major challenge. Then there was the issue of misuse of confidential information and other legal matters relating to copyright infringements.
However, the participants all agreed on the need to act with urgency to streamline and co-ordinate all the relevant information in a user-friendly manner to ensure that players at each level of agricultural production benefit from this initiative.
Meanwhile, Uylett noted that with the RPPD taking a coordinating role, he was confident that all the objectives would be met.
"We will have other sessions as well as we seek to bring all the intellectual capacity and material that we have within the agricultural sector to ensure that the RPPD, at this time, can play its role in strengthening our primary role and in relating to all the other particular entities - both in the ministry itself and in the wider country," he said.