Agri-investment forum aims to reduce region’s annual food import bill
Agri-Investment Forum and Expo to be held in Guyana from May 19-21 under the theme ‘Investing in Vision 25 by 25’ is being hailed as a springboard for taking tangible steps to reduce the region’s annual food import bill of US$5 billion.
The Government of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat are collaborating to host the event which is aimed at accelerating the process of identifying alternative financing solutions to achieve the goal of a 25 per cent reduction in the region’s food import bill by the year 2025. The aim is to advance its agricultural development in such a way that will help the Caribbean feed itself and better withstand future crises through deliberate and multifaceted approaches.
International investors from Israel, Ghana and Cameroon are ready to travel to Guyana for the first-ever event of this type, which will also see the participation of several global entities from the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean, along with scores of local investors.
Delivering the keynote address at Wednesday’s food security and sustainability summit, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, said the forum presents an opportunity for finding real answers to the problems which have plagued the region for so long. The two-day event was held at the Medallion Hall, St Andrew, under the theme ‘Global Impact on Caribbean Resilience in Food Security and Sustainability’.
DISRUPTION IN FOOD PRODUCTION
He noted that even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the war between Russia and The Ukraine disrupted global supply chains, Jamaica’s food production was being affected by extreme weather events.
“Our assessment must also take into account that a key factor impacting food security in the Caribbean is our vulnerability to natural disasters. We have to be resilient because earthquakes, floods, extreme temperatures all negatively impact the reliability and the volume of food production.
“The overall goal of this important event is to foster accelerated and targeted investments in agriculture, food production and its business ecosystems systems within the Caribbean member states. So this policy is being implemented and, importantly, stimulating strong partnerships on which we must advance the region’s enhanced food security.”
For this reason, Jamaica and the region must prepare to increase our agricultural output, increase our production of fruits, vegetable, poultry and meat with a focus on small ruminants. Additionally, we must seek to increase the range of volume of our value-added products and this through our agri-business strategy, he added.