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For those who still believe in the future of Dominica agriculture, the 2-day Country Conference on "Ensuring Sustainability through Food & Nutrition Security" presented last month at the UWI Open Campus was very satisfying. In particular the opening presentation by Professor Clement Sankat, Principal of UWI's St. Augustine Campus, and was particularly inspiring.

Speaking on the subject "Dominica's Agriculture: A Critical Reflection", his remarks provided (or should) an excellent platform for productive discussion for some time to come. He addressed with considerable depth utilizing statistics and user-friendly graphs, the position of agriculture in Dominica. It was truly inspiring. To lean into it effectively, he first gave the setting of agriculture in the world.

Consider this opening perspective "… the world in which we live is facing an enormous challenge in feeding itself. Millions of people are going hungry and dying as a result of improper nutrition. ....While everyday advances and innovations produce positive prospects for increasing food production, the fundamental challenges of hunger, poverty, improper nutrition and the degradation of our environment as a result of our present agricultural system still persistently remain! This raises serious concerns not just about the issue of food production, but rather, the system of food production that is in place today across the countries of our world, including in our countries in the Caribbean region..."

The professor was encouraged that global leaders have recognized the importance of agriculture to human development and for sustainable development. So much so that the second of the newly-agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals reads – "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture"

In describing the true value of agriculture, I really cannot do better than to quote him verbatim: "...Of all economic sectors, agriculture best reflects the essential nature of the ecological system which sustains human life. Agriculture is essential because it is an integrator – it has the ability to coordinate through synergistic interaction all other economic sectors. In addition to its food provisioning role, agriculture is also central to the supply of raw materials for processing and manufacturing, service sectors and in balancing the interface between human needs/activity and ecological/environmental systems. It ties commerce and enterprise development to health and well-being, and the natural environment and resource base which is the foundation for most enterprises..."

And that's just for starters. Given this column's space constraints, we have probably just wetted your appetite for NEXT TIME, when we go into the SPECIFICS of what this motivational expert recommends to move DOMINICA's AGRICULTURE forward!