“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” – 1 Peter 4:10
Two weeks ago in my column of November 9 entitled “Agricultural Innovations”, I promised to reflect, in my next column, on interesting small economy innovations from the Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum (CPAFF) which took place in Barbados in the first week of November 2015.
The CPAFF is the first-ever Forum of its kind and was led by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA – Brussels). CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU).
CTA’s mission is to advance food and nutritional security, increase prosperity and encourage sound natural resource management in ACP countries. CPAFF was also supported by the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme, organized in partnership with the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA Costa Rica).
The following are the expected outcomes from the CPAFF initiatives: (1) improving agricultural value chains and agri-business development across small island developing states and coastal communities; (2) enhancing knowledge about the nutrition status in selected cases of the region and the links between nutrition and agriculture value chains; (3) increasing knowledge about the state-of-the-art on climate change challenges, initiatives and critical gaps, and proposals for scaling up success stories that can link into more sustainable value chains and agri-business development; and (4) diverse exchanges will lead also to new relations and insights among participants and that this will contribute to broadening their vision and expanding their collaboration plans.
Last week, I was distracted by an interesting request which I received from a PhD student and decided instead to share the request and my response to that student with readers as the core of the content of my November 16 column. A well respected and regular reader of my column responded by saying how he quite liked my response to the PhD student, so I feel somewhat justified in making the decision.
It is just as well that I did because, since then, the CPAFF event has been so intensively and comprehensively covered on the Internet that it remains only for me to invite you to Google “Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum Barbados”. This will lead you to numerous articles and audio/visual messages on all aspects of the week-long Forum with the theme “Link-Learn-Transform”.
It is not an everyday experience for most of the 250 attendees at CPAFF to rub shoulders with people from “the other side of the world” at breakfast, lunch or in the evenings. I found this very stimulating, especially when one realizes that there is so much we have in common and there is so much that we can learn from each other, as is well articulated in the www.dailyword.com message for Friday, November 20, 2015: “The family of humanity is connected in wondrous ways. Physically, we are related through common genetics, culture, and civilization. Emotionally, we often affect a much wider circle of people than we may realize…”
In the time that has elapsed, my mind has wondered again and I asked myself what are other Caribbean Pacific connections and how can we leverage these connections in the context of the CPAFF objectives? Here is what emerged.
Dr. Eddie Molloy is an Irish management consultant, married to a Barbadian, with more than 40 years organizational development experience of large-scale change in all sectors. He lived in Barbados in the early 1980s when he was a partner in the Systems Group of Companies which I pioneered in 1977. He is now Hon. Consul General for Barbados in Dublin, Ireland. The Systems Group morphed into Systems Caribbean Limited in 1984 and into Systems Consulting Limited in 2000 which is still operational today.
Eddie invited me to visit Ireland in 2000. Takeaways from that visit include: (1) a story about an Irish railway consultant which has resulted in my current title “Change-Engine Consultant” – it is a rebranding that has worked for me as I transitioned from Managing Director of Systems Caribbean Limited to pursue my future as an individual consultant; (2) Barbados as a hub for Irish exports into South America; and (3) an appointment with an individual who is listed by Forbes among the world’s top 200 billionaires in 2015 and is also Ireland’s richest native-born citizen.
I refer in (3) above to none other than Denis O’Brien, the founder of Digicel. As far as I recall, at the time of my meeting he was involved in the telecoms business but soon sold it and launched Digicel in Jamaica in 2001. The rest is history. Digicel has participated in the remarkable marketing revolution in mobile communications, business solutions, media and entertainment and expanded rapidly across 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific – http://www.digicelgroup.com/en/work-with-us/job-opportunities.html.
In my September 21 column entitled “Agriculture is Vital”, here is an extract from a reader: “Well said Dr. Springer, I will be placing some focus on all the areas mentioned here. My agricultural/environmental biotechnology company is in great need of (restructuring) in order to create the platform for growth that it desperately needs…I would like to thank you for this email, this is the first time you came home to me in one of your articles in such a critical way”.
How can Digicel leverage its Caribbean Pacific connection to help to facilitate “access to finance” for agricultural entrepreneurs in their primary markets, using Shepherding as a risk mitigation measure?
Let us all look at the gifts we possess and mobilize them, by the grace of God, in small island states across the world for the benefit of mankind.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)