Rationalization as an Instrument for Development of Caribbean Agriculture

Regional cooperation in agricultural production and marketing has been accepted by Commonwealth Caribbean Governments as an essential and desirable objective in the movement towards closer economic integration. In the five years of Carifta, a considerable measure of regional cooperation has been achieved through the growth of intra-regional trade in both manufactured and certain agricultural commodities. In the case of trade in the latter, much of this has been conducted under the Agricultural Marketing Protocol (AMP) which forms an integral part of the Carifta Agreement and is the principal instrument outlining any form of agricultural policy. The Protocol is essentially a marketing Agreement and makes no provision for regulating agricultural production among Carifta Member States. It has been recognised by Carifta Governments that while the provisions for marketing contained in the AMP are necessary in themselves, they are insufficient to achieve the long-term goals for the development of agriculture and trade in the Region and a satisfactory redistribution of benefits among all Member Territories. In fact, in the five-year history of Carifta trade and production have tended to polarise in favour of the More Developed Countries, a consequence thought largely due to differences in resource endowment. The Carifta Governments have endorsed rationalisation of agriculture as an appropriate strategy for working towards closer regional cooperation in agricultural production and marketing. Rationalisation is conceived as a means of achieving certain levels of national specialisation in agricultural production and optimising the use of national and regional resources. An important and immediate aim of rationalizing agricultural production in the region would be to reduce the current degree of duplication and competition in agricultural activities and to work towards the achievement of greater complementarity among national agricultural programmes. In the Caribbean the concept of rationalisation of agriculture is without precedence and this is equally true for the application of such an approach in a regional economic grouping. National political considerations together with the current efforts of Member Governments, independently and insularly, to expand and diversify their economic activities add to the difficulties of accepting, let alone applying such an untried approach to agricultural development in the Region. This paper discusses the current efforts in Carifta to promote closer cooperation in agricultural production and marketing and some of the problems inherent in developing such a strategy. The possible benefits to individual Member Territories and to the Region as a whole require no further elaboration. There are existing areas of cooperation both in production and marketing which clearly demonstrate some of the potential benefits and these will be examined briefly. Finally, the point is emphasised that any approach to regional cooperation in agriculture -- and this is equally true for other areas of activities -- cannot be based solely on economic considerations such as would be determined by comparative advantage criteria. Given the common historical experiences and current agricultural activities, the national aspirations, the similarities in the physical and climatic conditions in the Region, cooperation in agriculture will depend, in the final analysis, on political considerations and the degree of commitment to regional integration.

Issue Date:
Apr 01 1973
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2017-10-18, last modified 2018-01-23

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