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Plant Health Directors from 34 countries meet in Cayman Islands

Wide tables sGRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – Plant Health directors from 34 countries and territories in the Caribbean along with delegates from regional and international organisations, government entities and universities gathered here this morning to kick off the 7th Caribbean Plant Health Directors Meeting.

The CPHD Forum will be held over four days to address issues relating to the health of and threats to flora in the Caribbean.

In welcoming remarks, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin told those in attendance that agriculture has always played a pivotal role in the Cayman Islands.

“Here in the Cayman Islands we have a deep interest in the welfare of agriculture,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Our fore bearers understood what it was to farm.”

The Premier said the forum is important to bring the region together.

“It is understood that each of us must be able to compete in the international marketplace, but unless we come together through venues like this forum, we cannot do so effectively,” he said. “It is because of working with others and sharing technical information that we were able to successfully combat pink hibiscus mealybug in 2006. Today we have a new pest, croton scale or sooty mold, to combat.”

Minister of Agriculture Hon. D. Kurt Tibbetts said the forum helps those in the region establish and maintain common standards when it comes to agriculture.

“The unity of purpose is an overarching concept that the Cayman Islands wholeheartedly endorses, as it has been critical to our success over the years,” Minister Tibbetts said. “Therefore, our Government’s decision to host this meeting shows the extent of our commitment to these ideals.”

He said that agricultural issues encompass the cultural, economic and health concerns of everyone in the Cayman Islands.

“As a result, we cannot overstate the importance of food and nutrition security,” he said. “The central role of agriculture includes reducing our dependency on imports and providing fresh, healthy food choices.”

He reiterated that it is important for the countries and territories to share information about threats to agriculture and said the Cayman Islands remains committed to maintaining a strong and effective plant protection and quarantine regime.

Because of the country’s vigilance in agriculture, the Cayman Islands was recognised by the Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative and the Caribbean Plant Health Directors as the recipient of the Inaugural GCSI Safeguarding Award last year.

“But regional cooperation is more than a convenient activity… It is essential for us all, for none of us are immune from threats posed by new pests or invasive flora and fauna,” Mr. Tibbetts said.



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