In this session we will explore how the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices and food systems is critical to creating a resilient future for the benefit of current and future generations.
A rural woman, first and foremost, Keithlin Caroo is an advocate and changemaker in the fields of gender equity in agriculture and rural development in St. Lucia. She is also the founder of ‘Helen’s Daughters’ a regionally recognized and award-winning nonprofit organization that focuses on rural women’s economic empowerment through advocacy, capacity development and improved market access. Structured as a selfhelp group, Helen’s Daughters, pays special attention to the training of rural communities (particularly women) in the area of sustainable agriculture, agri-business and overall self-development. The organization focuses on four strategic pillars: highlighting the role that women play in agriculture and food security, creating linkages for more women farmers to earn sustainable incomes, introducing women farmers to free or low-cost educational opportunities in the realm of sustainable agriculture, agri-tech and climate resilient farming and empowering women from rural communities to become leaders and decision-makers, in and outside of the agricultural sphere. The organization started in 2016, when it was selected as one of the winners of UN Women’s Empower Women Champions for Change Program.
While her academic background lay in the field of International Relations and Political Science, having served the last five years at the United Nations Secretariat in New York in the areas of Peacekeeping and Political Affairs, she has never forgotten her farming roots, particularly after noticing the vast inequities relating to gender roles in the agricultural sector, which is what led to the creation of Helen’s Daughters, as a means to redefine gender roles in agriculture and to create an enabling environment for women to enter and thrive in the sector. Ms. Caroo is a One Young World Ambassador, the recipient of the 2018 National Youth Award in Agriculture by the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports in St. Lucia, a Thought for Food Ambassador for the Caribbean, a Forbes Island Innovation feature, the first ever English-speaking Ashoka fellow in Latin America and the Caribbean, a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for Humanitarian Services and an IICA Goodwill Ambassador
Saboto Caesar is a young, brilliant, energetic community activist and advocate. A lawyer by profession, Caesar was born and raised in the constituency of South Central Windward. He is a devoted Christian and family oriented young man.
The former Island Scholar and Banana Growers Association scholarship recipient is a graduate of the Diamonds Government Primary School. His wide-ranging professional experience was garnered from his work as a lawyer, community worker, Government Senator and Minister.
Caesar continues to be a force for progress in the constituency of South Central Windward. He has worked with numerous sporting and cultural groups alike and maintains an active interest in football, basketball, cricket and netball. He has played a key role in mobilizing the South Central Windward Development Organization, to launch and complete community projects such as Mt Grenan Playing Field, the Diamonds Playing Field, the Lowmans Pan Yard, the refurbishment of the Greiggs Basketball Court and several capacity building programmes.
Ralph Birkhoff is Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer for Alquimi Renewables, LLC, a US/Caribbean based project development and holding company specializing in climate resilient protected agriculture and integrated renewable energy systems in the Caribbean and global Island States. Island Agtech holds proprietary technologies in the first engineered CAT5 hurricane resistant and climate smart greenhouse systems, as well as customized high yield SAEF hydroponic systems designed specifically for sub-tropical climates. IAT is also establishing a manufacturing entity in Trinidad to produce its customized hydroponic equipment for global supply. Island Growers Caribbean builds, owns, and operates its greenhouse farms with local island partners, with first projects to start operations in several islands in 2021, including Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, and Antigua.
The company mission is to substitute large volumes of imported high demand ‘cold weather’ crops to augment local indigenous crop farming to help build sustainable national food security in every island. Its farming operations will further support local knowledge transfer and attract young men and women to agriculture as a career by providing training, certification, and high skilled job opportunities. Island Growers farms will be USDA Organic and GlobalGap certified, providing a constant supply of high nutrient organic vegetables and fruits.
Mr. Birkhoff has over forty years of experience working with multi-national clients and supporting their expansion into global markets. Originally from Toronto, Canada, he has focused almost exclusively on the Caribbean and Latin American market for the past twenty-five years, and for the past ten years has made the Caribbean his home. Mr. Birkhoff resides in Tobago with his wife Vidya who is a professional artist and author from Trinidad.
He is a trained business coach of Climate Launch Pad (https://climatelaunchpad.org/). Jerry is a Tutor at the School of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Technology of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and a Climate Reality Leader and Mandela Washington Fellow. He is committed to protecting the ocean from unsustainable use and firmly believes that if aquatic resources are sustainably used they can help to mitigate climate change impacts and poverty.
Anastasia Stampoulopoulou is an Agronomist from Greece. Her personal aspiration is to help smallholder farmers and rural communities find their voice and be able to stand on their feet. While working on her undergrad thesis, “Economic Analysis of Beekeeping and Honey”, she learned firsthand the hardships of running an agriculture business. She realized, that agricultural policymakers don’t consider the difficulties that farmers endure. Most of the time, they don’t have access to educational seminars, workshops about sustainable practices, and credit opportunities. That lead her to pursue a Master’s degree in Global Development at Cornell University sponsored by the Greek Fulbright Institution. In summer 2021 she conducted her in-person fieldwork component for her research project, “Dairy Cooperatives, Sustainability and The B Corp movement in Greece and US”. She had the chance to take many interviews and facilitate focus groups with members and employees of dairy cooperatives. Furthermore, she is an advocator of agricultural co-ops and how they could play a vital role by helping smallholder farmers have a share in the global market. During Fall 2021 she will be working with her academic advisor to develop a website with learning materials for starting and running a cooperative.