Caribbean nations making progress towards reducing food imports by 25% by 2025, according to Guyana President

The head of state came to the Central American country to be one of the speakers at the opening ceremony of IICA’s Conference of Ministers of Agriculture 2023

The President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has said that his country and its fellow Caribbean nations are making steady progress towards achieving their proposed objective to reduce their multi-million dollar food import bill 25% by 2025.

“This task will require effort, commitment, policy coordination and access to capital to topple the barriers that are impeding access to new technologies and to allow us to achieve resilient and sustainable food production. We are making continuous progress in that direction”, said Ali at a press conference at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), in Costa Rica.

The head of state came to the Central American country to be one of the speakers at the opening ceremony of IICA’s Conference of Ministers of Agriculture 2023, which will continue until Thursday, 5 October. The meeting, which will seek to reach a consensus on strengthening agricultural production and regional food security in harmony with the environment, will also be attended by the President of Panama, a Nobel Prize laureate for Economics, a World Food Prize recipient, ministers of 32 countries, private sector representatives and rural leaders from the hemisphere.

Ali, who is the head of state with responsibility for Agriculture and Food Security in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), provided details on a South-South cooperation project that Guyana is implementing with the state of Roraima in Northern Brazil. The project is working to establish a regional food distribution hub, which will play a pivotal role in supplying the region. It will also attract millions of dollars of private sector investment, which has already begun in sectors such as aquaculture, dairy production and vegetables.

“We see Brazil as an important partner for assistance, especially Roraima and that is why Guyana and the state are already undertaking extensive cooperation, which will involve and benefit all CARICOM countries”, he said.

Ali also stressed the role of IICA’s technical cooperation in building food security in Guyana and other Caribbean nations, remarking that, “IICA assists with technical resources, significant financial contributions and science and technology to assist agriculture in the region and create resilience and sustainability.

Thus, he said that the agency for agricultural and rural development of the Inter-American System has an important responsibility to be the bridge that assists the region to close existing gaps between countries in terms of access to technologies for agriculture, resources and human capacities.

The head of state also commented that agriculture implies more than food production, remarking that, “For us, it is also an economic activity that has to be competitive, profitable, and must also worthwhile for the private sector and attractive to women and youth. We must position agriculture along those lines”.

He also reported that Guyana was making headway in achieving its objective to ensure that 35% of agricultural establishments are headed by women and youth; and the country is also providing extensive training for indigenous communities in new technologies. “Just a few years ago—he reported—indigenous children would spend half of their day hunting or fishing to get food. That is changing now”.

The President explained that Guyana is aiming to become a country that is rich in food production and that also refers to the nutritional value of its food and care for the environment in the production process.

He indicated that, “We are going to participate in all the debates on food security and also attend the roundtables on energy and climate change. Guyana has the lowest rate of deforestation in the world and our forests, which are the size of England and Scotland combined, store a huge amount of carbon”.

The Guyanese head of state explained that the world is showing a great deal of interest in his country today, given its discovery of massive reserves of petroleum and gas in recent years, which are already being exploited.

“Today Guyana features in the plans of all serious investors and we are in the mouths of journalists and policymakers. Given the interest in Guyana, we have access to all the media and this is beneficial for our ecotourism, our climate strategy and our low-carbon development strategy. However, Guyana has always cared for its forests to benefit all of humanity, although that story has never been told. Today we are the same country we have always been, but with greater visibility”, he concluded.

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  1. Jonathan Y St Jean
    October 5, 2023

    Imagine that the head of the Caribbean country where the returns from black gold (oil) are flowing through their economy, realizes the need to focus on food security for his country and the region. We have been talking about revitalizing agriculture in Dominica from year to year, whilst the Skerritt administration focuses on the next level. I go to the market and the price of agricultural products is jaw dropping, whilst the scarcity is shocking. The little local agriculture produce offered for sale in some supermarkets is expensive and close to the prices of products imported from the US. This suggests that the trajectory we are on our youth are not motivated towards agriculture and we should really be concerned about food security. Ian Douglas told us that 80% of our food consumed was imported to the tune of $198 million for 2022/2022. What about the initiative which could see Dominicans produce crops in Guyana and sell back home and elsewhere? Less talking needed.

  2. Teddy
    October 4, 2023

    In Dominica case its going to be 25% increase in food import bills. we need change.

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