CABI established an office in Trinidad and Tobago in 1946. Since then its scientists have worked with local partners to improve people’s livelihoods in a region that is rich in natural resources but has significant social inequalities. Agriculture (particularly commodity crops) remains economically important for the area.
The centre works across the whole of the Caribbean and Central America, carrying out work that is significant not just to the region, but globally.
In recent years its focus has been on finding sustainable ways to manage crop pests and invasive species. It is also working to conserve or enhance biodiversity in the local environment (the Caribbean’s exceptionally diverse ecosystems are home to many threatened species) and to support the commodity chains that flow from farmer to consumer.
To achieve this the centre researches and identifies agricultural pests and diseases, and works to mitigate the threats of invasive species. Farmers are supported in their integrated pest management (IPM) choices, and encouraged to implement sustainable crop management and production strategies.
The centre also collaborates with Ministries of Agriculture in the region, and provides information to guide policy.
Looking ahead, there are great opportunities for the centre to expand its mobile outreach work, which gives smallholder communities access to vital agricultural knowledge. This can help them improve their agricultural practices through better understanding of, for example, crop management and common pests and diseases.
There is also scope for the centre to use its skills and expertise in sanitary and phytosanitary issues to help reduce the barriers to free trade between the countries in the region. In a region where tourism is vital, making it easier to supply fresh food and produce to tourist hotels and cruise ships for example, could have a significant economic impact.