Countries within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have been able to pass the halfway mark of the Guyana-led food security agenda to slash costly regional imports by 25 per cent by 2025.
This is according to a press release from Guyana’s Ministry of Agriculture, which detailed that the countries have, collectively, been able to meet 57 per cent of the target. In other words, CARICOM countries have been able to slash food imports by just over 14 per cent.
To meet the 25 per cent target by 2025, countries must continue increasing food production so that food imported from foreign regions can be replaced by food produced in the Caribbean.
See below full release from the Ministry of Agriculture:
Last Friday during this year’s first CARICOM Ministerial Taskforce (MTF) on Food Production and Food Security meeting, it was announced that Member States were collectively able to achieve 57% of the target set in keeping with realising ‘Vision 25 by 2025’.
The announcement comes after countries would’ve submitted reports detailing their production data for 2022 for targeted commodities as CARICOM moves towards lowering the regional import bill by 25% by the year 2025.
It was reported that products such as cocoa, dairy, meat, root crops, fruits, and poultry have already reached 96.13%, 84.36%, 72.28%, 70.91%, 70.77%, and 70.19% respectively for the targeted production volume set for the year 2025.
Moreover, countries such as Guyana, Belize, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Dominica, and Jamaica have made significant advances in the production of commodities such as ginger, turmeric, corn, soya bean, root crops, fruits, cocoa, poultry, meat, fish, table eggs, and dairy.
The report also indicated that for 2022, Guyana produced some 20,195 MT of ginger and turmeric, 144,289 MT of root crops, 21,870 MT of fish, and 40,749 mt of coconut.
In addition to the updates on member states’ production targets, attendees were also updated on several other notable achievements.
During the 104th Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) Trade Policies for Animal and animal Products, a Regional Agricultural Health and Food Safety Policy, Special Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) guidelines for 19 commodities, and alternative SPS settlement mechanisms were approved.
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha, noted that these are great achievements for the Taskforce. He explained that with these mechanisms in place, a level playing field is being created making way for easier trade in agricultural products, intra-regionally.
“These four achievements are testimony to the hard work of the MTF. If we are allowed to increase intra-regional trade, we will be well on the way to reducing the regional food import bill which is the ultimate goal of CARICOM in keeping with its food security agenda. In just one year, collaborative efforts among member states have yielded much success,” Minister Mustapha noted.
Moving forward, Minister Mustapha who chairs the CARICOM MTF, indicated that several priority areas have been identified for 2023, including agriculture insurance and financing, trade and E-agriculture, resource mobilization, and trade support. These, he explained, will help to advance the efforts of the MTF and CARICOM as it works towards achieving ‘Vision 25 by 2025’.
The meeting, which was held virtually, saw attendance from Ministers of Agriculture from across the region, along with representatives of the CARICOM Member States, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and other regional officials and stakeholders. Today’s meeting was also the ninth convened since the establishment of the MTF.
The next CARICOM MTF meeting will be held sometime in March.