PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – The Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Dr. Carla Barnett, on Friday hailed the efforts of countries in the region to remove obstacles that have held back the growth of the sector regional agriculture.
Addressing the opening of the second Regional Agri-Investment Forum and Expo, Barnett said the event will build on the recent forum held in Guyana in May and facilitate focused discussions on the strategic direction that the region is taking to safeguard food and nutrition security. of his people.
“This is all the more critical as we at Caricom face the growing risk of food insecurity. This forum is one of many regional responses to this grim reality,” she said at the opening ceremony, adding that food and nutrition security, as a multidimensional issue, has implications for a number of number of economic and social areas, including tourism, manufacturing, health, education, culture and security costs.
Barnett said as part of a high-level response, Caricom, through the President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali, and the Special Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security (MTF) , has placed agriculture at the forefront of production-related policies, programs and projects for the region.
The Caricom Secretary General said the results of the April 2022 CARICOM/World Food Program Livelihoods Survey were quite disheartening.
“It concluded that the incidence of food insecurity is increasing and having a devastating effect on the people of the region,” she said, noting that key messages, as disheartening as they are, include that the food insecurity has increased further; food prices are rising; and people adopt negative coping strategies to make ends meet.
“To address these concerns, we have moved from talk to action. The plans and goals we have set are coming to fruition. We set out to overcome several obstacles that had stood in our way for too long.
She said as a result, the region reported progress in approving four “game-changing” policy actions and strategies, namely the Caricom Trade Policy for Animals and Animal Products, which will create a harmonized for all Member States in the region. , the Regional Agricultural Health and Food Safety Policy; the Alternative Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Dispute Resolution Mechanism; and 19 Special Guidelines for Trade in Animal and Plant Products.
She also said that the region has strengthened its partnerships with and between various stakeholders, including the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and several financial institutions.
“We came closer to the free movement of agricultural workers to support this agricultural transformation when government leaders agreed on a definition of agricultural workers at the July meeting of the Conference,” she said, adding that “our work, through Ministerial Task Force and in collaboration with the CARICOM Private Sector Organization, has led to agreement on priority commodities for regional investment and further development”.
Barnett said regional and international development partners in the Caribbean, including FAO and IIICA, have offered strong support for our regional program to reduce the food bill by 25% by 2025.
She said the recent Summit of the Americas held in the United States led to the creation of a committee of high-level representatives from the Caribbean and the United States to examine support mechanisms for strengthening security. food in the region.