New IICA Director General assumes office

New IICA Director General, Dr. Manuel Otero
New IICA Director General, Dr. Manuel Otero

Veterinarian Manuel Otero was sworn in on Monday 15 January, as Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for the period 2018-2022. The ceremony took place in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Ms. Nisa Surujbally, Progamme Manager Agriculture and Industry at the CARICOM Secretariat, represented CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, at the ceremony.

Among those who attended the ceremony were President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís; Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Ambassador Néstor Méndez; Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, Luis Felipe Arauz; Secretary of Family Farming, Coordination and Territorial Development of the Ministry of Agroindustry of Argentina, Santiago Hardie; and Chair of Argentina’s Senate Committee on Agriculture, Alfredo De Ángeli and other senior officials, IICA said in a press release.

From left: Dr. Arlington Chesney, former Regional Director of IICA; Dr. Manuel Ortero, Director General of IICA; Ms. Nisa Surujbally, Programme Manager, Agriculture and Industry, CARICOM Secretariat; Mr. Diego Montenegro, Director of Management and Regional Integration of IICA
From left: Dr. Arlington Chesney, former Regional Director of IICA; Dr. Manuel Ortero, Director General of IICA; Ms. Nisa Surujbally, Programme Manager, Agriculture and Industry, CARICOM Secretariat; Mr. Diego Montenegro, Director of Management and Regional Integration of IICA

Dr. Otero was unanimously elected to the position in October last year during the Nineteenth Regular Meeting of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture held at IICA Headquarters in Costa Rica. He succeeds Mexican agronomist Víctor Villalobos.  The new Director General has a wealth of experience in the fields of science and technology, agricultural health and trade, institution building and international cooperation.

With a strong commitment to area-based development and family farming, Dr. Otero said he would work to ensure the well-being of rural areas and expressed interest in working with the less developed countries to help mitigate inequality in the Americas.

Career profile

Dr. Manuel Otero has an MSc in agricultural development from the University of London and an MSc in animal production from the Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), whose headquarters are in Costa Rica; and graduated as a veterinary doctor from the School of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina.

Dr. Otero served as the Secretariat of Agriculture’s Agricultural Counselor at the Argentine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and also held the post of Vice President of the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) in Argentina.

He previously spent 27 years at IICA, taking up his first position with the organisation (as Representative in Brazil) in 1988. He subsequently held a series of other posts at Headquarters (as Adviser to the Director General, Director of Programming and Evaluation and Director of the Andean Regional Center) before serving as Representative in Uruguay and, once again, in Brazil.

He is the author of numerous technical documents on international trade, sectoral policies and the modernisation of agriculture, including Gestão da água e o futuro da vida no planeta and Uma nova visão sobre a agricultura brasileira, published in 2013. (Adapted from IICA Press Release)




The Community Council of Ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), at its first sitting of 2018, expressed concern at the reports of the dehumanizing situation of African migrants in Libya being auctioned into slavery by criminal elements.

Ministers joined in solidarity with the statements made by African and European leaders at the 5th African Union-European Union Summit on 29-30 November 2017 calling for “an immediate end of these criminal practices” and with that of the United Nations Security Council on 7 December 2017 condemning “such actions as heinous abuses of human rights”.

Ministers also welcomed the statement by the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord of Libya denouncing “slavery and human trafficking” and committing to take action against the reported crimes.

Given the history, lessons and effects of slavery, the Council underscored the need to condemn this gross violation of human rights. As stated in 2007 by then Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, slavery should “never again be experienced in old or new forms”.

Caribbean felt full brunt of climate change in 2017

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Dominica hurricane

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados,  CMC – In 2017, the Caribbean felt the full brunt of climate change with a warning that current trends indicate that there will be no respite.

Within a two-week period, Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought home the reality of the impact of climate change as they churned their way across the Lesser Antilles destroying everything in their paths. Hurricane Harvey had in August set the stage for what was to come; with devastation in Houston, Texas, amounting to nearly US$200billion.

“The unprecedented nature of this climatic event highlights the unusual nature of weather patterns that continue to affect nations across the globe,” the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said in a message to United States President Donald Trump, as Harvey made landfall in the United States after whipping up strong winds and heavy rains in the Caribbean.

It took less than a month for his statement to bear fruit. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 storms left so many Caribbean islands devastated in September that the CARICOM Chairman and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said “there can be no question that for us in the Caribbean, climate change is an existential threat”. (more…)

2017 In Photos

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As 2017 ends and we usher in 2018, we take a look back at a challenging year, but one in which CARICOM showed its formidable strength and resilience.

Here are some highlights:


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BVI launches Flood-Resilient SMART Communities Project

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Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands to get help (Photo via Caribbean News Service)
Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands to get help (Photo via Caribbean News Service)

December 28, 2017, BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Three flood-prone communities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) will soon benefit from a project that will help them build resilience to that particular climate change impact.

The Establishing Flood-Resilient SMART Communities through Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Partnerships project will target the communities of Sea Cow’s Bay and East End/Long Look on Tortola, and Great Harbour on the sister island of Jost Van Dyke.

The project is being funded through the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), which is managed by the Caribbean Development Bank. It is a collaborative effort among the Government of the British Virgin Islands through the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), and several non-profit organisations, including the Adventist Development Relief Agency, Rotary Family of BVI, BVI Red Cross and the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. CDRRF funded the project to the tune of USD649,500.

 “The devastation experienced in the Caribbean during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season is a reminder that tackling the impacts of climate change in one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions must be a matter of urgency,” said Claudia James, Project Manager, CDRRF, CDB. “CDRRF is pleased to help Borrowing Member Countries build greater resilience to these hazards, which continue to threaten the Region’s social and economic development.”