Guyana is leading an aggressive food security agenda within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and with plans afoot to increase food production, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley has also tasked Guyana with pushing regional food consumption.
Her contention is that the Caribbean has to consume more of what it produces, and ensure the thousands of tourists do the same. Otherwise, she reminded the public that the preference for and dependence on food produced elsewhere could again prove detrimental for the region.
Already, the Caribbean has been hit by price surges for food and other goods because of supply chain challenges emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the Ukraine/ Russia crisis.
And the Prime Minister has tasked Guyana with leading a campaign to encourage people to change their consumption patterns.
“… we need a CARICOM stamp of food and CARICOM produce so that we can run a regional campaign where Caribbean people can say ‘I want to buy Caribbean food even if it costs me 10 cents more or 50 cents more because I know my money is now going to keep our societies safer, or our societies more stable’,” Prime Minister Mottley told Guyana’s President Ali during his recent visit to the island.
She further emphasised, “We also have to educate our public and our consumers.”
Another concern the Prime Minister had was the quality of food produced elsewhere compared to the quality of food produced in the Caribbean. This is one of the reasons why her country will be collaborating with Guyana on pushing a new seafood plan.
Prime Minister Mottley’s sentiments were echoed by President Ali during his recent trip to Barbados for the country’s agro-fest.
The Guyanese Head of State lamented that global events are likely to contribute to a shortage of food and unless old habits change, including the preference for foreign food, the Caribbean will be hard hit by the looming catastrophe.
As such, he called on Caribbean people to consume more of what is produced in the region, discarding their preference for foreign goods. He also noted that distributors and members of the private sector are integral in “breaking the consumption cycle.”
CARICOM is pursuing revitalised efforts at cutting the region’s multibillion dollar annual food import bill by increasing regional production. These efforts are led by Guyana with President Ali as the Lead Head for agriculture in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet.