All sectors essential to cut CARICOM’s food import bill − President Ali

The Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) passionate efforts towards reducing its US$5 billion food import bill by 2025 must see the full involvement of every sector across member states.

President, Dr Irfaan Ali

The overarching strategy, which was developed to cut the region’s huge food expense, must also incorporate all the stakeholders, including farmers, the private sector, women and the youth within the region.

President, Dr Irfaan Ali said the aim is to reshape the way the future generation thinks about food in the region.

He was speaking during the recent opening of the recent Agri-Investment Forum and Expo II in Port- of -Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The Guyanese Leader said the approach used to promote the production system must be taken within a global context.

“We cannot position our Agri food system in a regional system. We have to position it in a global system, and build that system to withstand the global challenges that will come. And there will be a lot of global challenges,”Dr Ali said.

The strategy, he noted, outlines specific actions required by each state in achieving the 25 by 2025 goal.

“We have to let them know that a sweet potato chip is better than the Irish potato chip, more nutritional and everything. So, it is an integrated approach that involves every sector in terms of resolving this issue of food security,” he emphasised.

Further, he stated, “We must position ourselves to be leaders and not followers… we have a great opportunity and great commitment, a lot of time and resources invested. Let us not fail the next generation by allowing this opportunity to evade us.”

President Ali had stated that Guyana has the potential to become the regional agricultural giant, though being one of the smallest states in South America.

The PPP/C Administration has made significant investments which will enhance the nation’s competitiveness, ensuring that there is a resilient and diversified economy, to withstand shocks and challenges.

Government’s holistic plan is to transform the sub-sectors within the food industry – aquaculture, livestock, fisheries, drainage and irrigation – to a standard that ensures food security and Guyana being a dominant player in the CARICOM market.

In Guyana, millions of dollars have already been pumped into constructing thoroughfares to give agriculturists easy access to their farms.

Among other things, thousands of acres of prime farmland were made available to agriculturists.

President Ali, on numerous occasions, stressed the importance of Guyana acquiring international food standards, in its quest to perform effectively in the international market.

Additionally, he emphasised the importance of having certified and adequate laboratory facilities, even as government seeks to improve its agricultural health and food safety, and traceability services.