Guyana chairs a CARICOM meeting to discuss food production and food safety
Kaieteur News – Guyana has taken the lead in agriculture at CARICOM and as such, a special Ministerial Task Force on food production and food security has been established to advance the CARICOM agri-food systems agenda.
The President Dr. Irfaan Ali presented the food production and food safety agenda at the 32nd CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting last February. CARICOM subsequently approved the agenda and agreed to establish the taskforce to implement the strategy.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, who is also chair of the special Ministerial Task Force, held the opening meeting with Agriculture Ministers from the ten CARICOM member states that participated.
The Agriculture Minister said the objective of the task force is to lead the regional position towards transforming the agri-food system allowing for a much more resilient Region, wealth production and food security.
“Transforming a food system is at the heart of our aspirations and mandate. Therefore, our activities over the next few years would aim for this goal. In particular, the CARICOM Agri-Food System Strategy seeks to address clearly, completely remove all technical barriers to trade, develop the CARICOM Cross-Border Agri-Food Investment Strategy to support production corridors, accelerating completion and adoption CARICOM is final. Investment Code, completion of revision of suspension regimes and CET rule of origin to provide protection to regional enterprises and to support regional returns competitiveness; implementing an E-Agriculture Strategy; develop measures to promote the de-risk of the sector; improving transport and logistics; and investment in production, research and development, ”said Minister Mustapha.
Minister Mustapha also mentioned that in order to achieve such achievements, the implementation of 36 broad policy areas has been expressed and priority sectors such as poultry, corn / soya beans, rice, beef, pork, mutton, coconut, specialty vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, ginger and turmeric have been identified for advancing the commercialization agenda of the regional food system.
The Ministerial Task Force consists of Ministers of Agriculture and other officials from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bahamas, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Task Force also reviewed, revised and accepted the Terms of Reference (TOR), developed by a team of technical officers from the CARICOM Secretariat, which outlines the Task Force’s objectives, purpose, membership and governance.
Shaun Baugh, CARICOM’s agricultural and agri-industrial development program manager, discussed the action plan for the strategy. He said the objective of the plan was to commercialize the regional agri-food industry, with the actual commencement of private sector production activities in priority sectors, within a three-year window.
According to the Press Release, it also discussed several broad policy measures and reforms required to support the commercialization of the region’s agri-food system. In the short and medium term, trade barriers have been identified as a major constraint to be addressed.
The need to develop an e-agriculture strategy as well as investments in production, research and development were classified as long-term areas that need to be addressed. The Task Force will also work to engage with the regional private sector, foreign investors, international and regional institutional partners, and the diplomatic community with a view to forming effective partnerships to take the work forward.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Mustapha asked Heads of Government to discuss the TOR and action plan with their Cabinet colleagues before the next Ministerial Task Force meeting, which is scheduled to take place once a month before the next CARICOM Heads of Government Conference. .