Come this month, the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (NRWPTT) will be hosting their 4th Annual Mango Festival on the 6th and the 8th at the UWI campus with the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs taking a greater role this year in the mango festival. “In 2009, the network accepted the challenge to host the Mango Festival in three weeks time. We had no money, no ideas; we only had the desire to make it happen, said Gia Gaspard- Taylor, President of NRWPTT. “When the media picked it up they started promoting it and we had it right here on the grounds of IICA. It rained all day but people kept coming because I think it was a novelty idea. Then we saw the potential of mangoes and the need in exploiting the potential of mangoes- the king of fruits. We saw the need for education, potential for members to earn, and the opportunity to develop additional products. Shortly after the conference we got correspondence from UWI is asking us for them to join with us. We welcomed the opportunity and we have partnered with them ever since.” The theme for this year’s conference ‘From Seed to Table’ will include three workshops including the commercialisation of mangoes in the Caribbean, the challenges in the mango industry and research and development of mangoes. “The reason for the conference is the Ministry of Food Production, Land and Marine Affairs have included mangoes in their 2012/ 2015 plan. We had no idea where the mango festival would take us, and the fact that we- the rural women's network has the recognition of UN and other organisations we are now being seen as important. Previously, I think people saw us as the woman by the side of the road by the standpipe with no teeth or few in her mouth. That was the stereotyping of what a rural woman should look like and I think this is changing now,” she said.
ABOUT THE NRWPTT
In 1995 the Organisation of American States (OAS) hosted its first ladies conference with the wives of the heads of states in Chile. The outcome of that meeting gave birth to the Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (NRWPTT) whereby the first ladies with support of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) decided to focus their attention on rural communities and rural women. After two years of meetings, the Network came up with a constitution and is now a registered organisation with the Legal Affairs Ministry. The main existence of the NRWPTT is to focus their attention on rural communities and rural women by providing rural women with access to credit for micro-business projects, contributing to government policies that are sensitive to and supportive of the special needs of rural women producers, contributing to the elimination of the gender bias in the ownership of land, ensuring that women have the same opportunities as men to own property and also seek to providing marketing support for rural women producers and to offer training, research, technical support and outreach services.
Gia Gaspard-Taylor, President of NRWPTT explained that the Rural Women’s Network works in innovative ways to share information and promote action on rural women’s issues, often in partnership with individuals, groups and non- government and government agencies. “We maintain relationships with all of the networks that came together to give us birth. They have membership within our network as well as individual members and we have been having training over the years, capacity building and product development together with the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and some of the organisations to help rural women,” Gaspard-Taylor said.“We have all of the CARICOM islands involved including Suriname, Haiti, Antigua, Grenada, Barbuda, etc., and also other countries because this is how we came into existence when the first meeting was held. The OAS is a hemispheric organisation and therefore they all have the opportunity to interact with us, or we with them.” Now in their twelfth year, the network is being recognised for successes in the movement of rural women.
For more information on the Mango Festival, or if you are interested in offering monetary assistance, you can contact Gia Gaspard-Taylor at 683 4251.