Port of Spain, January 28, 2020 (IICA). 37 key actors in the cocoa industry in Trinidad and Tobago, including the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), celebrated their first Cocoa Industry Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Platform (CIMSDP) meeting to enable participatory decision making and share knowledge among industry.
This first meeting, hosted at the offices of the Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (CDCTTL), brought together industry representatives who got down quickly to the business of re-establishing development imperatives, with particular interest in current and emerging opportunities that could drive growth and prosperity for all industry stakeholders.
“In my experience, this is the first formally structured and launched multi-stakeholder dialogue platform established for inclusive stakeholder participation in influencing policy and programs in Agriculture” stated Winston Rudder, Chairman of the CDCTTL Board, who chaired this inception CIMSDP meeting.
The CDCTTL is tasked to provide Secretariat services to the CIMSDP, industry representatives included farmers, processors, community-based business founders and key development support agencies operating at the industry, sector and national levels.
An important outcome of this first meeting was agreement on a priority action agenda. As part of the Platform Advisory Committee, IICA will work with other team members, namely the CDCTTL, the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC), the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF), ExporTT, farmers and processors to review the outcomes of this first meeting and present a 6-month road map for consideration and consensus of CIMSDP members.
Promotion of the bioeconomy approach towards full and sustainable utilisation of agricultural resources for development is being assisted by the IICA Bioeconomy and Production Development Programme at the Institute’s headquarters in Costa Rica.
IICA will continue to support cocoa industry development initiatives through full participation on, and support to the CIMSDP as well as through proactive engagement with key institutional partners, namely the CDCTTL, the CRC and the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries (MALF) Cocoa Research Unit.
This coordinated partnership will also facilitate a more inclusive planning of the upcoming Cocoa Industry Investment Forum aimed at exploring investment prospects in food and non-food products along the entire cocoa bioeconomy, including innovative and appropriate technologies for converting industry waste into viable economic opportunities.
Richard Rampersaud, Specialist in Agribusiness and Value Chains in the IICA´s Representation in Trinidad and Tobago, confirmed the expectations of “tremendous benefits resulting from this stakeholder platform, which is well poised to succeed” and noted that the “process of establishing the governance and operational mechanisms was informed by a wealth of experiences from other countries, adapted to the T&T context”.
Some critical decisions and post-meeting immediate steps taken included the setting up of communication channels, using WhatsApp and dGroups (Development through dialogue) to enable free and two-way communication flows and the sharing of members’ upcoming and planned events to foster greater support within the membership.
The next CIMSDP meeting is scheduled for 11 March, 2020. Members are unanimous in their desire to ensure that this platform not become another talk-hub, but delivers tangible measurable results to all industry participants.
IICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.
Richard Rampersaud, Specialist in Agribusiness and Value Chains of IICA.