Mustapha urges wider Latin America/Caribbean partnership to attain regional food security

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Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Wednesday highlighted the shared need for measures to be implemented between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Latin American and all Caribbean countries in achieving ambitious food security targets.

Minister Mustapha emphasized this need during remarks to a delegation from Peru, Guatemala and the United Nations at a side event for the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome, Italy.

The minister reminded that CARICOM member states are partnering to significantly reduce the US$6 billion food import bill. But he noted that Latin American countries should not be excluded from these efforts since collectively, the entire Latin America and the Caribbean region is affected by food insecurity.

“What we have in CARICOM is a strong political commitment and a clear plan of action mission.

“In Vision 25 by 2025, we focus on all aspects of the food system including the production of commodities mobilizing of resources, technical support, promoting cross-border investment removing nontariff barriers for trade. This should not be applicable alone to the Caribbean but we should ensure that it is applicable to one region, Latin America and the Caribbean,” the Agriculture Minister said.

Food insecurity is a pressing issue for the region and earlier this year, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said public and private investments amounting to at least US$7.5 billion are needed to help the region acquire food security.

Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha at the UN Food Systems Summit 2023 (Photo Ministry of Agriculture (July 25, 2023)
The delegation during the discussion on Food Security at the UN Food Systems Summit in Italy

The Caribbean’s first regional food hub that will link Guyana, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago is underway. However, Minister Mustapha said it is his hope that following this meeting, more Latin countries will exhibit inclusivity to diversify trade in this area.

“We know those who are left further behind are often the ones with the weakest link to engage and partner effectively as such we must help provide the enabling space.

“It all starts with a conversation and willingness for partnership is the prerequisite,” the minister said.

Guyana has made efforts to have bilateral relations with its neighbouring Latin American countries that are similar to those with its sister countries in the Caribbean, to provide support for one another to strengthen their individual agriculture sectors.

Brazil has offered support in both technical and laboratory areas for Guyana’s farming needs as it is a known manufacturing and commercial hub in South America. Brazil exported soya bean, unglazed ceramics and tractors to Guyana in 2020.

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