Edmunds Appointed Director of
Agricultural Sector Relations of
The Caribbean Agricultural Network
Dr. Joseph Edsel Edmunds of St Lucia has been appointed Director of the Agricultural Sector Relations of the Caribbean Agricultural Network (CAN) based in the United States by the President of the Network, prominent Dominican lawyer and Caribbean development advocate Gabriel J. Christian.

The appointment letter states that "This position grants you the mandate to do all things reasonable and necessary to link our organization to government and non-government entities for the purpose of promoting Caribbean agriculture.  We believe that your stature and experience can go a long way in advancing our regional interest and that of our affiliates in Africa, the Americas, and further afield".

Dr, Edmunds has served as a consultant to various international agencies in the South Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and is a world renowned Nematologist.  The nematode Longidorus edmunsi was named in his honor by a British Nematologist in recognition of this contribution to this field of science.  He is a former Senior Research Fellow of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, and Director of Research and Development of the Windward Islands Banana Industry.

The Agricultural Network, a non-governmental organization, was launched on April 16 in Washington, DC with established links with African, Latin American and Caribbean scientists and members of agro industries which have been successful in generating economic agricultural enterprises in developed and developing countries.

For example, the network is working together with the farming community and Government of Dominica in the resuscitating of the cocoa industry of the island and the production of world class chocolate for international trade.  This has been achieved through partnership with SPAGnVOLA chocolatier, premium chocolate makers based in Gaithersburg - Maryland.


In collaboration with CiBEXO Group Dominica, the Law Office of Gabriel Christian and Caribbean Agriculture Network, SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier joins the relief effort for Dominica victims of Tropical Storm Erika.
As of Thursday, September 17th, SPAGnVOLA will have a limited number of Dominica's premium chocolates bars for sale at their outlets in Gaithersburg and National Harbor. These artisan bars are made from cocoa produced in Dominica and will be for sale at $25.00 each. "The main ingredient in these bars is love and this is what's being sent to Dominica with a 100% of the proceeds from this effort" says SPAGnVOLA's head chocolate maker, Crisoire Reid.

This fundraising effort is demonstrative of our commitment not only to the farmers but to a people with whom we have fallen in love during our visit earlier this year. As we are limited to 1,000 bars and earmarked to raise US$25,000 we are seeking the support of chocolate lovers by sampling this new chocolate.

From Dominica, a lush arcadia of towering thickly forested mountains swept by sweet Caribbean breezes come Chocolat de la Dominique. Dominica is in that part of the Americas where cocoa originated, and where Meso Americans traversed the Caribbean and connected with the Central American isthmus and what is today Venezuela. In the 1900s Dominica' s lush forest and Botanic Gardens were laboratories for the added introduction of fine flavored Trinitario and Criollo beans carefully nurtured in partnership with the world renowned Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture at Trinidad (now the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine). A British colony then, Dominica’s beans was highly prized by the leading British chocolatiers who used the island's fine flavor beans to add exquisite taste to their bars. SPAGnVOLA's Chocolat de la Dominique was born of the vision of Christian family matriarch Alberta Christian who was born at Dominica's Cocoa Center in the Layou Valley in 1929.

Chocolate de la Dominique is an exquisite blend of cocoa from a unique and unspoilt spot on earth which is like what Bordeaux is to wine. While cocoa beans may be transported from one country to the next, it is the particular soil chemistry and overall atmospherics of a given place which infuses the cocoa bean with its unique notes. Made from heirloom cocoa trees grown by independent cocoa farmers, the Chocolate de la Dominique beans were lovingly fermented via the CiBEXO method. The fermentation and training of local farmers on Dominica took place in February 2015 during a mission by SPAGnVOLA and the Caribbean Agricultural Network. The beans were carefully selected for the first ever international launch of a chocolate bar from Dominica.

The fine flavored Chocolat de la Dominique bar will titillate your taste buds with its subtle earth, wood and fragrant floral tones redolent of the pristine forests from which it emerges. Our bar contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or refined sugars making them truly a dairy free and gluten free dream come true. Come, enjoy Chocolat de la Dominique and enter a zone born of an isle of splendor, an isle so rich and rare.

"Over the past couple of weeks, the plight of Dominica has been weighing heavily on us here at SPAGnVOLA. As such, my wife Crisoire and I have decided to move quickly to launch the new Dominica chocolate bar as a fundraiser to help in whatever way we can," says SPAGnVOLA's CEO, Eric Reid.

Special Launch of Chocolat de la Dominique 
in commemoration of our beloved departed flood victim
-'Mighty Cocoa Tea' - Clifton Lewis'


Contributors to the Rebuild Dominica initiative purchasers of our Chocolate bar with total value to be donated to Dominica


The Ravages of Tropical Storm Erica

Tropical Storm Erica strikes Dominica with unprecedented flooding, loss of life and property reported. The Caribbean Agricultural Network and affiliates will seek to coordinate relief with Government  and non-government authorities at this time of need.  

Messages can be sent to the office of 
mobile: 301-661-3280    office: 301-218-9400
 mobile: 210-386-0779

We will keep everyone updated as to planned relief efforts. Please revisit the site, and inform your friends.




Donation of Advanced Breadfruit Cultivars to Dominica by son of Marcus Garvey


BY LUKE DOUGLAS Environment Watch staff reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com   - April 2011


Press Release:
On August 17, 2015, the 128th anniversary of the birth of the Right Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey (see link below) 392 high yielding and fast growing breadfruit cultivars have left the Global Breadfruit facility in Florida for the island of Dominica. 
Breadfruit tissue culture

Breadfruit plants in potting medium

Plants ready for shipment after 6 mths
According to the CEO of the Caribbean Agricultural Network (CAN) Major Francis Richards, the cultivars (Ulu-fiti) and (Otea) are the donation of New York based General Surgeon Dr Julius Garvey, the last son of Marcus Garvey.
At the end of the hardening process, the objective of the project is to distribute the plants within the seven (7) agricultural regions on island. Upon arrival the cultivars will be transported to the Ministry of Agriculture’s greenhouse facility at Portsmouth where they will be hardened for three months prior to distribution to local farmers. The advanced cultivar types sent to Dominica are fast bearing and will fruit within 2 to 3 years, compared to the standard 3 to 5 years.

Dr. Garvey is a member of the Caribbean Agricultural Network and has dedicated himself to the development of Caribbean food security, in accordance with the principles of self reliance advocated by his father who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the early 1900s. Dominica was a major base of support for the UNIA during its early years and Marcus Garvey himself was invited to Dominica in 1929 with the aid of UNIA representative, noted local poet and self rule activist JR Ralph Casimir.

According to CAN's Director on Dominica, Errol Emmanuel, the breadfruit proliferation effort will complement the cocoa revival project on Dominica led by the Caribbean Agricultural Network in league with Dominica's cocoa farmers.
The objective of CAN is to rebuild the agriculture and food security backbone on Dominica, and the Caribbean region.  On August 1, 2015  St Lucian agriculture scientist and former ambassador to the US,   Dr Eddie Edmunds joined CAN as its Director of Agriculture Institution Relations.

The CAN President Gabriel J. Christian, wishes to thank Dr Garvey for his leadership in agriculture and food security by this gift, and the Government of Dominica and other persons who have come forward to collaborate on its agriculture development  mission.

Other breadfruit related information can be viewed at http://www.caribbeanagriculturalnetwork.com/2015_06_01_archive.html

Note: The consignment of breadfruit plants arrived safely at the Douglas/Charles airport on Tuesday August 18th, 2015.   With the invaluable assistance from the staff of the Division of Agriculture and members of the CAN team the plants were transported to the green house at the Portsmouth Agric Station where they will be hardened for approx three (3) months before distribution as a public/private sector initiative.
Breadfruit facts from GlOBAL BREADFRUIT

Total Trees exported : 63,780                          Total Countries: 35

Hawaii                             (2009)
American Samoa            (2012)
Guam                              (2012)
French Polynesia             (2013)
Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan)  (2013)
Samoa                                                                        (2014)
Republic of the Marshall Islands (Majuro)                   (2014)
Federated States of Micronesia (Pohnpei, Chuuk)     (2014)

Jamaica                      (2009)
Haiti                            (2010)
Bermuda                    (2013)
Nevis                          (2013)
Puerto Rico                (2013)
Cayman Islands          (2013)
Barbados                    (2014)
Bahamas                     (2014)
Antigua and Barbuda   (2015)
Dominica                     (2015)

Honduras                 (2009)
Nicaragua                (2011)
Costa Rica               (2012)
Panama                    (2013)
Guatemala                (2013)
Belize                       (2015)

Ghana                 (2011)
Mozambique       (2011)
Nigeria                (2011)
Tanzania             (2011)
Madagascar        (2012)
Kenya                 (2013)
Liberia                (2013)
Rwanda              (2014)
Zambia                (2014)

ASIA (2)
Myanmar     (2012)
Pakistan      (2014)


A Tribute to the Dominica Botanic Gardens Website

A Tribute to the Dominica Botanic Gardens Website

Raglan Riviere's Legacy
A botanic science lithograph of tropical foods grown at the Dominica Botanic Gardens, circa 1921

Raglan Riviere
1935 -  2015
On July 6, 2015, Raglan Riviere, the co-founder of the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences (the “Dominica Academy” hereinafter) passed away. A soft spoken and modest person, Mr. Riviere quietly toiled away at his computer to fashion the Dominica Academy’s website www.da-academy.org as a platform atop which Dominicans at home and abroad could gather to pursue development projects in the arts and sciences.  In fifteen years of endeavor since its launch on November 1, 2000, the Academy accomplished many things, big and small,  to include: assisting youth development in supporting the revival of the Dominica Cadet Corps,  providing medical supplies to restocked the medical stores when the facility at the Princess Margaret Hospital was consumed by fire in 2005; hosting the Dominica Development symposiums alongside the Roosevelt “Rosie” Douglas Foundation and  encouraging research and development in agriculture, arts, history. The first ever soccer competitions on island  between the residents and those born overseas of Dominican heritage took place in 2005 as part of this inspired coming together of the Dominican family, as is chronicled here - http://www.da-academy.org/daaschronicle03.html . Of great importance to our survival however, was the effort he led to create the Dominica Botanic Gardens website launched in 2005.

The Botanic Gardens – A Development Laboratory
In the widely acclaimed book Science and Colonial Expansion by Lucille Brockway (Yale University Press, 2002) the role of economic botany is explored in how it made Great Britain the most powerful nation on earth in the 19th century. Britain, unlike any power before – or since – had created a network of botanic gardens and a systematic research infrastructure to determine which plants grew best, where, and how. With the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew as the mothership, satellite botanic gardens were developed across the empire in pursuit of finding those plants which had value for human sustenance. The Dominica Botanic Gardens, started in 1890, and was one of those satellite stations developed by Kew Gardens. Charles Murray of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens was its first curator. In the middle of the 20th Century the Dominica Botanic Gardens was considered one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. The book clearly reveals that Britain’s success did not derive solely from superiority in the military arts, but also thrived on the basis of superior organization, and teamwork which birthed a competence in the botanic sciences. For instance, the development of West Indian sugar cane cultivation provided the capital which propelled Britain’s industrial revolution; rubber grown in Asia spurred innovation in transportation, and sisal was grown to make rope – a basic but essential tool for modernity. Most telling in this focus on using the scientific method was the role of the cinchona plant in making quinine so as to combat malaria disease so prevalent in lands the British sought to colonize. In 1860 a British expedition to South America led by Clement Markham brought back smuggled seeds and plants which were introduced in several areas of the British ruled India and Sri Lanka.  So able to combat malaria, British settlers could now pursue their commercial interest with slight hindrance from that disease.

The breadfruit is common place on Dominica and other parts of the West Indies and is a potential ally in our quest for food security. However, how many people know that this fruit came from the 1793 expedition to Tahiti and the other islands in the south Pacific by Royal Navy Captain Bligh? Bligh’s expedition had been backed by Sir Joseph Banks, patron of Kew Gardens.  An earlier mission had led to the mutiny of Captain Bligh’s crew. The mutineers under one Fletcher Christian had cast Bligh adrift in the hope he would perish. Bligh, a skillful navigator, survived and he finally brought the breadfruit to the West Indies as a source of food for the enslaved Africans who worked the land growing sugar cane.

Today, however, our people have cast off the chains of slavery. But what about the chains on our minds which inhibit reasoned judgment, knowledge of our past as a guide to the future, collaborative engagement in the arts and sciences, or beneficial partnerships in enterprise across the political divide?  Why is it that our Dominica Botanic Gardens is not at the center of our quest for survival, as it should be?  If we do not protect, preserve, and promote our Dominica Botanic Gardens how can we meaningfully advance our agriculture? The Dominica Academy was a grassroots effort, founded by us, for us. It was designed as a space within which we could enjoy the freedom to engage critical and scientific inquiry so as to innovate and create that which is needed to build a competent and advanced society. It was designed to be non-partisan and focused on the development mission.  Dominicans at home, and abroad, could combine our efforts in beneficial development endeavor – just as other great nations have done. Those who miss that point have failed to grasp the importance of such an academy, or the importance of transforming beneficial colonial era institutions to sustain a more independent future.

In the face of such challenges, what will it take for Dominicans at home and abroad to appreciate that we have the key to mastery in agriculture in the center of our national capital? That key is The Dominica Botanic Gardens. How many school tours take place there? How many symposia on plant science and food security take place there? What displays on local, lean and green cuisine can we host under the auspices of our gardens to cultivate a love for agriculture among our young?  Where in national planning, or legislation, do we see an effort for the expansion of research and development based on our Dominica Botanic Gardens? Where is the consensus that we should develop the Dominica Botanic Gardens as a world class center of learning in the botanic sciences? During the annual independence celebrations a big fete is held at the Dominica Botanic Gardens, the so-called “Creole in the Park.” That event has absolutely no focus on the botanic sciences. Such misplaced energy is a rebuke to common sense.  We can celebrate, yet educate. We must learn to place education ahead of entertainment, it is that simple.

Proposals to Preserve & Promote the Dominica Botanic Gardens
To that end we propose:
A Dominica Botanic Gardens Society – by legislation
A Dominica Botanic  Gardens Day
A National Herbarium
A Dominica Botanic Gardens & Food Science Education Series
A Dominica Botanic Gardens Conference to Devise Ways/Means to Preserve and Promote the
        Gardens; Encourage Research and Development in the Botanic Sciences and Enhance Agricultural
        Science Education on Dominica

Where we implement such recommendations, in partnership with institutions such as the Smithsonian and eminent botanist Dr. John Kress, we shall make progress. In 2010 the Dominica Academy started the process of collaboration with the Smithsonian by sending Dominica State College students for summer study programs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

There is national consensus that, for some time now, Dominica’s economy has groaned under the weight of an unsustainable food import bill. In the same week Mr. Riviere passed, Dominica born Pan American Health Organization Director Dr. Carissa Etienne lamented that the island’s population is increasingly obese and diseased by too much “fast-food” consumption.  We must focus on making our own food and ensuring the best in food quality. Therefore a focus on botanic sciences in ensuring healthy foods for our population is of critical importance.  In 2000 we made a start when we formed the Dominica Academy; other willing hands must now assemble to take the helm and so guide the development process.

Raglan Riviere gave his last full measure to such an effort to develop our capacity in the arts & sciences. Not only was he an author, but he understood the importance of the sciences, and the importance of chronicling our march through time as a guide. Based on the teaming concept of the Dominica Academy he worked tirelessly as the webmaster to develop the Dominica Botanic Gardens website. Mr. Riviere was ably assisted by Dr. Clayton Shillingford, Dr. Davidson Shillingford. The website was buttressed by the photographs and work done by Botanic Gardens staffers, plus Arlington James, Major Francis Richards and many other contributors – some of whom provided historic prints from their archives.

The work of Raglan Riviere, and those who stood with him, was grounded in a patriotic commitment to national development, and was born of sincere volunteerism. Raglan’s work on the website spanned many areas as exemplified on the site map,www.da-academy.org/daas_sitemap.html  that deals with adult education, Diaspora relations, economic development, health services, and an array of hosted websites on Dominica’s indigenous people, island scholars, Academy honorees and selected biographies of Dominica’s leaders in politics, arts, religion and business. That team effort led by the Dominica Academy birthed what is – arguably – the best botanic gardens online site of its kind in the former British West Indies. However, we are not satisfied. We can do even better where we work as a team; divided we cannot long endure. But, as the British did before us, we must wisely take ownership of those beneficial systems they created– such as the Dominica Botanic Gardens – and enhance them so that our nation can survive and thrive. Such unity of purpose in the arts and sciences, as exemplified in the majestic work on the Dominica Botanic Gardens website  of the Dominica Academy would be a wonderful tribute to a son of the soil who gave his best. Let us therefore remember him and the good for which he stood.


Resolution 954 "In Sympathy" Passed by Maryland State Senate in Honor of Dominican born Civic Leader of the Dominica Academy of Arts & Sciences Raglan Riviere

Be advised that due to the leadership of Maryland Senator Shirley Nathan Pulliam Jamaica heritage ), and  upon the advice of  former Maryland General Assembly State Delegate Aisha Braveboy (Grenada herirage), the Senate of Maryland today, July 15, 2015,  issued Senate Resolution 954 in sympathy with our departed leader and friend Raglan Riviere. And that said sympathy be extended to his family; photo of resolution parchment attached.

It is the first such recognition by the Maryland Senate of a Dominica born civic leader. It must be noted that the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in Maryland on November 1, 2000 and incorporated in that state  as a non profit in 2001. The Academy has engaged in many development projects for the benefit of Dominica and the wider Caribbean community. The work of Mr. Riviere in aiding that effort is therefore recognized as rendering a benefit  to the principle and cause of community development. In 2009 the Academy co-sponsored the epic Caribbean Glory tribute to British West Indian World War II veterans  at Andrews Air Force Base.

Both Senator Pulliam and former state Delegate Braveboy have been supportive of the Maryland Governors Commission on Caribbean Affairs.

We here thank Senator Pulliam, Delegate Braveboy, Ms. Zammett and all those who worked with them to make this dignified and honorable gesture possible on such short notice.