Nevis Farmer Emontine Thompson currently farms between seven to eight acres of land and cultivates a wide range of crops including vegetables, root crops, fruit crops and cotton.

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'Choices' shows Caribbean's love for the land

Informative and filled with brilliant case studies from across the Caribbean, a new publication "Choices – Caribbean AgriCulture, Our Way", is an account of the love, passion and spirit of ordinary people for the rich, nurturing earth, which provides an interesting read for anyone, not just for those who have an interest in food and farming.

In setting the context for the publication, Steve Maximay, managing director, Science-Based Initiatives (SBI) who wrote the foreword in the publication said Choices chronicles "many bright, well-educated, unheralded young people and seniors choosing to earn a very comfortable living from the provision of agricultural goods and services".

Choices is a joint production of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Caribbean Agricultural Regional Policy Network (CaRAPN) and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) of the EU-ACP. Conceptualised by Diana Francis of IICA, Choices, which was fully funded by the CTA is available mainly through IICA's country offices and can be downloaded from the IICA, CTA and CaRAPN websites.

Choices catalogues remarkable stories of innovation, creativity and sheer determination that will inspire even the most outdoor-shy to grab some garden tools and get to planting. The colourful coffee-table book gives some special insights into how enterprising men and women from the Caribbean are making farming profitable while at the same time promoting the use of locally grown foods and produce as a sensible alternative to expensive foreign fare and rising food importation bills.

Filled with colourful pictures and delightful images, Editor Francis and her diverse team of 17 writers, explore how modern day farming and food production in the Caribbean are contributing to a culture of wellness and preventive medicine through proper nutrition. The book offers the reader some unusual and exciting examples of how to grow, eat and market our own food, and how agriculture can be a way of life.

Choices showcases how innovation and a personal commitment to eating from off the land is spawning a thriving culture for all that's natural and authentically Caribbean. Home-grown foods are being cultivated in large community farms, sold locally or preserved, bottled and otherwise packaged for local consumption or shipped abroad. In addition to making agriculture an intrinsic part of the Caribbean's food culture, these stories are also showing how it's possible to make agriculture profitable.

In interviews with food producers, small farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs, the writers have chronicled the journeys of individuals, farm families and community groups from across thirteen Caribbean territories, who give real life experiences of how new techniques, cooperatives and sound business practices are making an impact in the sector. Clearly, from the lessons learnt and shared in this book, nutrition security and food sustainability for the region are aspirations that are quite attainable.

From the Rupununi plains and hinterlands on Guyana's South American mainland to rain forests and hilly terrains of the islands, forty-two stories unfold from Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Grenadines, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago . Divided into five sections, each story highlights an 'agri-preneur' some of whom are 'Engaged Youth in Agriculture' or 'Empowered Women in Agriculture', while others are among those who are 'Driven to Succeed'. Readers also get a glimpse of a growing number of green-thumbs who are 'Embracing the Next Green Revolution' and how others are taking action through 'Enabling Governments'.

If you want to see what the future of food supply in the Caribbean can look like within the next decade, then follow the stories of these pioneers and leaders as they attempt, even in small ways to revitalise food production and distribution across the region. As Ms Francis, IICA's Regional Specialist, Trade Policies and Negotiations Programme for the Caribbean Region says, all we can hope for is ..that their stories inform, educate, inspire and reveal lessons that will help all of us to make a choice for Agri-Culture. We also hope that their lessons are used to better inform policies that genuinely create an environment that sparks enterprise and innovation towards higher levels of self-reliance."

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