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The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to enhance the regional (Caribbean and Pacific) and interregional capabilities of agricultural sectors in eradicating poverty. The specific objective is to increase the capability of Regional Agricultural Development Organizations of the Caribbean and Pacific regions to address the development needs of smallholder agriculture. Conditions for agriculture production are in many ways comparable in the Caribbean and in the Pacific. Both regions face similar (if not same) challenges from climate change, natural disasters, high food prices, small internal markets, reliability on a few export commodities etc. the countries in the Pacific and Caribbean are with few exceptions the same as identified and described by the UN as “Small Island Development States” (SIDS).

In the developing States of the Caribbean and Pacific regions the acceleration of social and economic change over the past two decades has undermined both subsistence and commercial plantation agriculture, while new crops, production structures and markets have not emerged as viable economic alternatives. Smallholder agriculture has been particularly affected, weakening rural communities, while food insecurity has increased and nutrition has suffered as dietary habits from outside the region have proliferated. The agricultural development institutions active in the region have lacked the resources and appropriate policy and regulatory framework to reverse the trend of decline in smallholder farming, despite widespread awareness of the issues. Some successes have been achieved in the commercial sectors, particularly in the larger countries, but in general the predominantly smallholder agricultural sector has not been able to mobilise an adequate response to the numerous challenges they face under modernisation, globalisation and environmental and social change. This programme will engage with the common problems faced by the two regions in their rural sectors by promoting the development of Smallholder agriculture through its closer integration into local, national, regional and where appropriate global markets. In doing so, it will draw not only on regional technical and institutional resources but also those of the entire African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region, including Africa, where social, economic and technological tools for agricultural development have been tried and tested in diverse environments, some very similar to those of the Caribbean and the Pacific. The programme will, on the one hand, address the specific needs of smallholders and rural communities in both regions and, on the other hand, stimulate inter and intra-regional knowledge-sharing to build sustainable capacity for the development of viable agricultural systems in regions with limited agricultural land, growing populations and strong farming traditions in their often isolated rural communities.