Participants from across CARICOM countries are now in the first week of a three-week Government of Spain-Government of Jamaica Training of Producers seminar at the Sydney Pagon Agricultural High School in St Elizabeth. They are focusing on 'protected agriculture'.
The seminar, which is being facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the University of the West Indies, Mona, is part of a larger project - the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Technology in Agriculture (CEATA) - which is based in Jamaica but has regional scope within CARICOM.
The training is being provided by consultants from the Spanish Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries, which specialises in research and training.
The financial assistance to establish the CEATA is part of the CARICOM-Spain Cooperation Programme and comes at a time when food security has become critical to the region's continued development.
The centre is geared at increasing the competitiveness of the agricultural sector across the region in order to meet an increasing demand for high-quality fruits and vegetables due to the expansion of the local and tourism industries. It also aims to broaden the region's export capacity
Spain has had a long tradition and a strong record of using advanced technologies in agriculture, and as a result, has attained an international reputation for the excellent quality of its products. Greenhouse technology puts the focus on productivity and quality. It provides the farmers with the capacity to manage their crops, thereby reducing exposure to the vagaries of weather conditions and seasonality.
In addition to the series of seminars on protected agriculture, two high-tech greenhouses have been donated by Spain and are currently being constructed in Manchester and St Elizabeth to enhance the applied research capabilities of the Caribbean research community. Spanish experts are on the island supervising the installation of these greenhouses and will also guide local researchers and technicians in their use.
In addition to the series of seminars on protected agriculture, two high-tech greenhouses have been donated.