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Contact: Primus Hutchinson

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - A ten day regional programme on the “Management of a Question and Answer Service, QAS” has gotten underway here at the Bay Gardens Inn. The course which began on Monday May 26, 2003 , an initiative of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation, CTA and CARDI, is a continuing attempt to develop activities to improve access to information across the Caribbean region.

This effort is in keeping with the vision of Caribbean governments to transform the agricultural sector to a one of sustainable international competitiveness, even as the region is faced with declining productivity and the lost of preferential market in a globalised environment.

Information Resource Manager of CARDI, representing CTA Regional Branch Office for the Caribbean, Claudette de Freitas, indicated that the CTA programme focuses on providing training courses and workshops in the area of information and communication, Web design and Development, Data Base Development, Public Awareness, Proposal Writing among others. And it is under this programme that this QAS workshop is being sponsored.

De Freitas added that the regional programme which is aimed at improving the local capacity to manage information and communications will through that workshop focus on increasing the availability of information by strengthening the capacity of staff members directly responsible for providing information at their respective organisations.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Honourable Cyprian Lansiquot re-emphasized the importance of the regional organisation to improving the capacity of the region in the area of information and communication management.

“The strategy is aimed at providing support to national focal point within the agricultural communities to improve access to information. This is one mechanism that will contribute to the increased competitiveness of the agricultural sector in the Caribbean. The QAS in St. Lucia has been aiming to fulfil the needs of all users of agricultural information. We have however focused on farmers, teachers, policy makers, researchers, extension personnel and school children” Lansiquot said.

Participants from a number of Caribbean countries including the independent Republic of Haiti are here for the ten day CTA/CARDI programme.

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