FAO partners with UWI the Ministry of Agriculture in Barbados to bring together regional stakeholders

Against the backdrop of the significant and burdensome cost of imported staples like wheat and maize, a major regional conference on the development of the cassava industry is taking place in Barbados from 10 – 12 February. The conference, which is being held at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill campus, is being organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the UWI and Barbados’ Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management.

Over 60 delegates from the major cassava-producing countries of the Caribbean and Latin America will be in attendance. The delegates have been drawn from the public and private sectors, academia, industry and farmer organizations. FAO is facilitating the attendance of several key global and regional technical experts in the field to share best practices as well as to provide an overview of the growing market for cassava and cassava products.

Over 60 delegates from the major cassava-producing countries of the Caribbean and Latin America will be in attendance. The delegates have been drawn from the public and private sectors, academia, industry and farmer organizations. FAO is facilitating the attendance of several key global and regional technical experts in the field to share best practices as well as to provide an overview of the growing market for cassava and cassava products.

Cassava’s vast potential as an import substitute has long been acknowledged. It is already cultivated as a food crop in most countries of the region but its uses are diverse. It can be processed into high-quality flour than can partially substitute for wheat flour; it is a nutrient-rich replacement for corn in animal feed; and the beer industry has already tested and approved its use as an alternative to malt. Cassava also has to potential to be used in the creation of bioethanol. For these possibilities to be realized, it is essential to develop the entire value chain, from production and yields to processing and marketing technologies.

Conference sessions will include presentations and discussions on such varied topics as production methods, including appropriate varieties for specific value added products; land and water availability; harvesting; mechanization; commercial and family farming; financing and investment; and policy frameworks. The ultimate aim of the 3-day meeting is to create a Road Map for the development of the cassava industry in the region.

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