Dr Daniel Elger, CABI’s CEO, and Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Memberships Director, have completed a two-week visit to the Caribbean, taking in three of CABI’s 49 Member Countries, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, to strengthen strategic partnerships with stakeholders in the region.

Accompanied by Mr Naitram (Bob) Ramnanan, CABI’s Regional Representative for the Caribbean, they met with a number of organizations to discuss work in partnership to safeguard food security and biodiversity in these three countries and the wider Caribbean region.

The CABI delegation had productive dialogue with Ministries of Agriculture (MoAs) and other key stakeholders including, the Caribbean Agriculture Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI) and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund.

CABI Member Countries and other institutions were canvassed for support to create a Caribbean Invasive Alien Species Trust Fund (CIASTF).

The Caribbean’s unique biodiversity is under continuous threat from non-native plants and animals such as the aggressive vine Coral Creeper (Antigonon leptopus), Green Monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) and the Small Indian Mongoose (Urva auropunctatus).

It is hoped that the CIASTF will independently mobilize, blend and oversee the collection and allocation of financial resources and build the capacity needed to facilitate a strategic focus on Invasive Alien Species (IAS) management in the region, providing long-term funding for a longer-term problem.

The delegation’s meetings explored ways to build on CABI’s programmes and the digital tools CABI provides to help farmers grow more and lose less to crop pests and diseases.

Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have successfully implemented CABI’s Plantwise and PlantwisePlus programmes over the past eight years. These have established plant clinics where plant doctors help smallholder farmers diagnose and remedy plant health problems that can affect their livelihoods and food security. The delegation visited several farms supported by plant doctors of mobile plant clinics in Jamaica.

Jamaica_MobilePlantClinics_FarmVisit1 (1)

CABI CEO Dr Daniel Elger (third right) visits a plant clinic in Jamaica.

Guyana has championed the issue of food security at a pan-Caribbean level. Following a ministerial level meeting, the delegation met with a team from the country’s National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and the Guyana Rice Development Board to share insights on evolving crop pest challenges and how these can be tackled in order to support food security and trade.

CABI’s BioProtection Portal is helping thousands of users around the world identify suitable biocontrol and biopesticide products to manage their plant pests and raising awareness about alternatives to chemical pesticides. The delegation joined representatives of Jamaica’s Pesticide Control Authority, its Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining (MAFM) and its Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to celebrate the launch of the CABI Bioprotection Portal in Jamaica on 17 July.

“Ensuring a safe and secure food supply is a priority for Jamaica. Reducing reliance on hazardous pesticides for crop protection is an important step. We are therefore delighted to be the 40th country to join CABI BioProtection Portal, which will provide our farmers and their advisors with information on registered biological plant protection products and how to obtain and apply them,” said Ms Tamara Morrison, Registrar, Pesticide Control Authority, Jamaica.

The CABI delegation also discussed with researchers and lecturers in the region how they might benefit from the CABI Digital Library, which showcases all of CABI’s books, journals (including CABI Agriculture and Bioscience, CABI Reviews, Human-Animal Interactions and CABI One Health) CABI Compendia, the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, collections and its research database products (CAB Abstracts and Global Health).

The delegation learned about local farming practices and market access through visits to farms and markets in Trinidad and Tobago facilitated by the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation and the MarVista Institute for Agricultural Training and Development in Trinidad and Tobago.

The plant clinic network is one way in which Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have strengthened their capacity to improve food security and protect crops of economic importance.

Plant doctors in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago help smallholder farmers tackle prevalent crop pests and diseases such as frosty pod rot (Moniliophthora roreri) of cocoa, yellowing (Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae) in coconuts, moka disease (Ralstonia solanacearum race 2) of bananas, berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) in coffee and citrus greening (Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus).

In Trinidad and Tobago, CABI has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and Elephant Vert – a pioneer in agricultural biosolutions – to help mitigate the scourge of Moruga locusts which have the potential to decimate a wide range of vegetable, food and tree crops in the country.

Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh, Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries, said, “Trinidad and Tobago has had a long history of successful partnership with CABI. The introduction of plant clinics and the training of plant doctors under CABI’s Plantwise programme has been important in supporting our farmers.

“We look forward to building on this history and expanding our collaboration with CABI as we seek to tackle invasive alien species and other threats to our agriculture and biodiversity.”

Dr Elger said, “Our Member Countries in the Caribbean played a key role in the creation of CABI’s new Medium-Term Strategy for 2023-2025 and we are working in partnership with these Members to achieve our shared goals.

“Continuing engagement with stakeholders across the region is critical as we seek to work together on improving food security and smallholder farmers’ livelihoods, providing new opportunities for rural women and youth, safeguarding biodiversity and supporting adaptation to climate change.

“I am pleased that smallholder farmers, their families and communities in the Caribbean are benefiting from CABI’s support through PlantwisePlus and digital tools, which are increasingly important in the fight against crop pests and diseases.”

MoA_Guyana (002)

Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Dr Daniel Elger and Mr Ramnanan (fifth right) meet with representatives from Guyana including The Honourable Mr Zulfikar Mustapha (M.P. the Minister of Agriculture, Guyana), Ms Viviane Baharally (Researcher, Guyana Rice Development Board), Naitram Ramnanan and Mr Jagnarine Singh (CEO, National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and CABI Liaison Officer).


Additional information

Main image: CABI delegation Mr Ramnanan, Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, and CEO Dr Daniel Elger meets with Trinidad and Tobago colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries including The Honourable Avinash Singh, Minister, Mrs Coomarie Goolabsingh, Permanent Secretary Agriculture, Dr Simone Titus, Chief Technical Officer, and Leah Balkaran, Special Advisor.


Relevant stories

‘Biosecurity Interception System to be adopted across Caribbean to improve surveillance for Invasive Alien Species.’

‘CABI highlights top 20 crop pests and diseases for possible prioritization in the Eastern Caribbean.’

‘CABI supports plans for a Caribbean Invasive Alien Species Trust Fund to mitigate threats to biodiversity.’


Further notes on CABI in Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago

Guyana is one of the founding members of CABI. Its activities in Guyana are coordinated by CABI’s centre in Trinidad and Tobago which is led by Mr Naitram (Bob) Ramnanan, Regional Representative. The centre works with regional partners and stakeholders to improve the lives of smallholders, ensuring smallholder communities have access to vital agricultural knowledge.

CABI’s work in Guyana has been focused on identifying and tackling crop pests and diseases, including citrus greening disease, Sweet Potato Weevil and Fusarium oxysproum Tropical Race 4, and finding sustainable ways to manage them.

Jamaica is another founding member of CABI. In 2015, CABI’s Plantwise programme was successfully launched in the country. Plant clinics and plant doctors in 14 parishes are helping smallholder farmers diagnose and mitigate a range of plant health problems.

The presence of Frosty Pod Rot in Jamaica led CABI to help create a strategy for this disease after sharing an Emergency Action Plan which was originally developed for Trinidad and Tobago. The country has also taken part in regional training courses such as the Invasive Species Compendium courses.

Other work in Jamaica has seen CABI join partners, including the FAO and the Ministries of Agriculture in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia, to help carry out an agroecology assessment for the three Caribbean islands. This involved conducting baseline studies to describe the major crops, livestock, forestry and aquaculture production systems and their potential for integrated agroecological production.

CABI established an office in Trinidad and Tobago in 1946. Since then its scientists have worked with local partners across the Caribbean and Central America to improve people’s livelihoods in a region that is rich in natural resources but has significant social inequalities.

In recent years the Centre’s 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.

Previous work in Trinidad and Tobago has included investigating introduced forest species that can have a negative effect on native biodiversity such as Tectona grandis (teak), Acacia mangium (brown salwood) and Leucaena leucocephala (white leadtree).

Find out more about CABI in Trinidad and Tobago from the centre page here.