This document presents the conceptual framework, including the justification, objectives, expected outputs and agenda of a Regional Seminar on Transforming Caribbean Agriculture Through Family Farming, to be held during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in Suriname, which is scheduled for the 06-12 October, 2014. The Seminar is being presented in the context of the challenges confronting the region’s agricultural sector, the difficulties faced by most CARICOM countries in achieving agricultural sector growth and food and nutrition security and the urgent need to transform the agricultural sector to impact the economies of Caribbean countries.
The Seminar is also being presented against the background of a sector characterized by:

  • High levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, especially as related to high food costs and the high food import bill;
  • A rapid dietary/nutritional and epidemiological transition, resulting from changing food consumption patterns that contribute to increased levels of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart diseases and cancer;
  • Underdeveloped agriculture and food systems;
  • Inadequate rural area and territorial development strategic approaches;
  • High exposure to risks and limited resilience capacity;
  • Weak Public Policy and Governance; and
  • Inadequate legislative approaches and frameworks.

The United Nations has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming in recognition of the important role that family farming plays in eradicating hunger. Family farming is understood to include crop, livestock, forestry, fishery and aquaculture producers who use predominantly family labour with the head of the household participating directly in the production process, and where the farm activity is the main source of income for the household, even though supplemental income may come from other non-agricultural activities. By that definition, nearly 80% of the food supply in developing and developed countries is produced by an estimated 500 million family farms. The scale of this contribution is mirrored in Latin America and the Caribbean, where family farming accounts for more than 80% of agricultural production and generates more than 50% of agricultural employment. In addition to being a major supplier of the kind of traditional food which contributes to healthy, balanced diets, family farming provides employment opportunities, preserves and enhances the culture, skills and traditions of local communities, and contributes to the conservation of plant and animal species. Coupled with specific policies, family farming has the potential to stimulate local economies by providing a social safety net for rural the communities in which they are based.

In spite of this, family farmers often operate without the necessary support mechanisms, a situation which the International Year of Family Farming hopes to address through its four main activities:

  • Supporting the development of policies conducive to sustainable family farming
  • Increasing knowledge communication and public awareness
  • Attaining a better understanding of family farming needs, potential and constraints and ensuring technical support
  • Creating synergies for sustainability

The term “family farming” has not traditionally been used in the Caribbean, but it is understood to be a significant sub-group of the small farming community. Most livestock farmers, fisher-folk and small farmers in the region fall under this subheading. A 2012 FAO study, Profile of the Small-Scale Farming in the Caribbean, as well as information provided by national and regional farmer organizations, give detailed insight into contemporary small/family farming, with respect to farm/household size, land tenure, gender, age, produce, farming systems and markets.

Regional agricultural development institutions are keen to utilize the occasion of International Year of Family Farming to design specific and targeted interventions. In this regard, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with the World Rural Forum (WRF), the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), held the first Regional Dialogue on Family Farming in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile, on October 30-31, 2013.
The objective of the forum was to improve the understanding of the role of family farming in each country and sub-region, as well as to define the main regional issues that should be addressed during the IYFF. Eight agriculturists from the Caribbean attended the forum and reported that the challenges faced by family farms across the region are very similar. They cited four critical areas that need to be addressed:

  • Lack of an institutional framework designed to guide the development of family farming;
  • Lack of appreciation and undervaluing of the contribution of family farming by society and government;
  • Weak and uncoordinated economic, technological, social and environmental policies supporting family farm development; and
  • Lack of public policies to encourage youth and women to remain and work in rural areas.

Out of this regional dialogue, a Caribbean Family Farming Working Group was formed to serve as a catalyst to develop and implement an agenda to promote increased recognition and development of family farms in the Caribbean region. The institutional membership of the working group is: FAO, Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), The University of the West Indies (UWI), Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The Working Group has agreed to initiate work in the following five thematic areas:

  • Public policy to support family farming technology development, extension, and investment;
  • Information and communication systems to facilitate the collection of data and preparation of analysis and publications on family farming;
  • Succession planning to promote an increase of youth and women in family farming;
  • Business and economic planning and analysis for enterprise development; and
  • Sustainable development of family farms emphasising building resilience and reducing risk.

The Caribbean Family Farming Working Group is committed to the promotion of family farm development, through the implementation of actions that enable family farms to increase their adoption of improved systems of production and to have increased access to markets.
Therefore, as the Caribbean region seeks to reduce its food import bill and build a thriving agricultural system capable of feeding its population, it is crucial that the contribution of family farmers is quantified, recognized and facilitated..

It is, therefore, against this background that this Regional Seminar on Transforming Caribbean Agriculture Through Family Farming, will take place on October 6th, 2014 during the Caribbean Week of Agriculture in 2014. The expected  participants are relevant government officials, including agricultural planners and policy makers, technical specialists, family farmers, agricultural private sector leaders, civil society leaders and agricultural organization leaders.


2.1       General Objective
To facilitate dialogue and the exchange of experiences among the diverse stakeholders (public sector, private sector, family farmers, civil society) on priority issues and development options for transforming Caribbean agriculture through Family Farming.

    • Specific Objectives           
  • To promote dialogue and gain knowledge about the experiences in different contexts and countries of the role of family farming in the revitalization of the agriculture and rural economy and ensuring food and nutrition security in response to issues of hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition and high the food import bill facing Caribbean countries;


  • To build consensus and  contribute to  processes to improve the inter-sectoral and territorial dynamics of family farming; and
  • To define the way forward in terms of road maps for policy and action proposals in Caribbean agricultural transformation through family farming.


  • Expected Results
  • Participants  have increased knowledge of the broad issues affecting agriculture and rural development in the Caribbean region;


  • Participants  have increased knowledge on the priority issues and  options for the revitalization of the agricultural sector and for addressing  food and nutrition insecurity in the Caribbean region, through family farming.
  • Participants have increased knowledge of the characteristics of family farming as well as the its role in agricultural transformation and its processes in different contexts and countries;


  • Portfolio of policy and action proposals for development related to the agricultural revitalization and food and nutrition security, through family farming, identified.
  • The participants will define a broad framework  for policy and action proposals in Caribbean agricultural transformation through family farming.


  •  The participants will have a published summary of the Seminar report.


       MOINDAY 6TH  OCTOBER 2014






08:30 to 08:35


Desire Field-Ridley, Officer in
Directorate of trade and Economic Integration

08:35 to 08:45

Remarks: Government of Suriname

Minister of Agriculture




08:45 to 09:05

 Caribbean Agricultural Transformation: The Role of Family Farming.

Dr. Deep Ford,
FAO Sub-regional
Coordinator  for the Caribbean

09:05 to 09:20

Innovation  in Family Farming in Central America:
Lessons Learnt and Application to the Caribbean.

Muhammah Ibrahim,

09:20 to 09:35

Transforming Agriculture in Brazil through Family
Farming: Lessons Learnt and Application to the

 Technical Officer,
FAO, Brazil

09:35 to 09:45

Suriname Family Farming Observatory.

Technical Officer,

09:45 to 10:15

PLENARY:  Discussion on Session





See Presentation below:


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Participating Countries

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bahamas
  • Dominica
  • Guyana
  • Grenada
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Montserrat
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Suriname
  • Saint Lucia
  • Trinidad and Tobago

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