Much work needed to transform regional agriculture to tackle food insecurity

In the wake of the recent focus on Caribbean food sufficiency and security, led by Guyana and Barbados, agricultural sustainability has reportedly been one of the issues at the forefront of recent discussions at the Caribbean Community level. (Caricom).

It will be recalled that last May, Guyana organized its Agricultural Investment Forum and Exhibition under the theme “Investing in Vision 25 by 2025” and that this event was followed by the Barbados Agro Fest which followed. The two events served to spark a measure of regional chatter on food security and cause some countries, once again, to come together in an effort to tip the scales in the face of what now appears to be a growing concern at the global level. scale of the region.

Trinidad and Tobago also got down to business by hosting its own Agricultural Investment Forum from August 19-21, which would have focused, among other things, on raising awareness of the importance of food security and on building a resilient and sustainable agricultural system.

It should be said that while each of these events seemed to attract some attention, some of the chatter surrounding them focused on laziness in the region, particularly at the Caricom level. Previous initiatives to implement the sentiments expressed by Heads of Government on the importance of urgently strengthening the Caribbean’s food security benchmarks have not been followed through.

It would appear that, gradually born (at least in part) out of criticism of what is seen as indifference to the clamor for food security, the regional integration body is finally seeking, with a heightened sense of urgency , to seize the issue publish.

While perhaps insufficient regional media attention was given to the August 19-21 forum in Trinidad and Tobago under the theme “Transforming Agriculture through Innovation and Investment”, it reportedly focused on initiatives encouraging discussions between the main stakeholders of the agricultural sector, both locally and regionally; create investment opportunities for local or regional producers/entities along the agricultural value chain; improve agricultural production, productivity and value chains in the agricultural sector through the sharing of knowledge and experience; encourage technology exchange and/or promote investment in innovative technologies to increase food availability at local and regional levels; and reduce dependence on imported food products by promoting local or regional alternatives.

The challenge for the region is to transform the issues covered by the agenda of the Trinidad and Tobago meeting into an agenda to be executed at the community level, which will allow for region-wide inputs. Some of the main points that would have been raised during this forum were the current serious global situation of shortages and high prices of imported food fertilizers and other agricultural inputs, as well as the serious problems affecting transport and logistics. These problems continue to deeply affect the region through a knock-on effect on food prices. What the Port-of-Spain deliberations recognized (and it has been no secret for some time) is that the region has the capacity to achieve a high level of food security as long as the necessary measures are being taken to implement what we already know to be the necessary measures.

Now that the final season of the regional food security discourse seems to have run out of steam, it would appear that issues such as raising awareness of the importance of food security and building a resilient and sustainable agricultural system, l Building stronger relationships between key agricultural and agribusiness stakeholders and providing potential regional investors with investment opportunities across the agricultural value chain are high priorities.

To move beyond the highly publicized food safety program that has taken place over the past few months, which has emerged primarily as a preparatory public awareness exercise to actualize a clearly determined direction, there are other key considerations. Among them are the importance of creating a resilient and sustainable agricultural system, encouraging discussions between the main stakeholders in the sector, creating investment opportunities for local or regional producers/entities along the supply chain. agricultural value and to improve the competence of agriculture through the sharing of knowledge and experience. It is also important to encourage the exchange of technologies and promote investment in innovative technologies to increase the availability of food at local and regional levels, and to reduce dependence on imported food products by promoting local or regional alternatives.