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Region urged to growown food

marciadottin, [email protected]

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BARBADOS along with other regional countries have been urged by the Assembly of Caribbean People to place greater emphasis on producing what they consume.David Comissiong, one of the spokesmen for the just concluded fifth convention of the  assembly held here, said this meant greater focus on the manufacturing, agricultural and agro-processing sectors.“It is clear that if we are to defend ourselves in this crisis we must put much greater emphasis on producing for ourselves; greater focus on manufacturing, agriculture and agro processing industries.“There must be a regional system of import substitution . . . in these changed economic circumstances the relevance of producing more of what we consume is critical,” Comissiong told the assembly.He added that as a result of this position the assembly would be reaching out to the manufacturers and farmers across the region and their representatives to strengthen their relationships and defend their cause. The Barbadian politician said the assembly, which ended its week-long meeting here on Saturday, said one of the other key recommendations was that the region approached and dealt with the existing world economic crisis on a collective basis. The participants felt that there was merit in such a united approach for Caribbean people regardless of language or political systems.“The assembly felt that we  need to demand and campaign for cancellation of the onerous foreign debt which many countries in the region face. While an individual country cannot demand such action, as a collective the Caribbean would be in a much better position to demand cancellation of the debts.” He added that the 120 delegates who attended the conference which was held at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, also indicated that given the impact of the economic crisis on the region, it was important that governments maintained certain support systems for the people.“The social welfare status of Caribbean people in eductaion, health, employment and welfare systems must be kept.“Regional leaders must recognise that this is a special period and the best form of defence is in sharing of resources and expertise to protect these programmes.“This collective approach will also allow better access to international assistance,” he added.The major decisions coming out of this conference will be forwarded to regional governments and institutions, including the Caricom Secretariat in Guyana. The next assembly will be held in Suriname in 2012. (ES)