CARICOM Heads working on action plan to boost agriculture in the Region – President Ali

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali says the CARICOM Heads of Government are actively working on an action plan to boost agriculture in the Region. President Ali made this disclosure during a press conference of the 32nd Intersessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government today.

The press briefing was held at the close of the two-day Meeting.

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

Dr. Ali said there was an extensive discussion on agriculture in the context of food security, commercialisation and mainstreaming the Region’s agricultural output. He said this will be done through the formulation of a national and regional policy.

“The discussions were aimed at looking at the entire value chain in terms of creating wealth, creating business opportunities whilst at the same time improving our capacity and our output, and making agri-business sustainable for the Region and moving towards greater food security,” President Ali said.

To achieve the goal, President Ali said discussions were also held around the responsibility of Governments within the Region. This concerns the way Governments craft their national budgets, ensuring that strategic targets are outlined to support agricultural development, increase in yield, agri-business and agro-processing.

“We discussed various incentive mechanism. In the report we looked at where our competitive edge and advantages are. We looked at our competitors and to see where our differentials are and how we can actually build a model that help us to negate those differentials and lead us to competitiveness,” Dr. Ali said.

The President said the action plan would address breaking down barriers affecting trade in the Region.

“We looked at some of the barriers affecting inter-regional trade and movement of our agricultural products and we have established those barriers and we have decided that we are going to work through a Ministerial Taskforce, the private sector organisation and through our sub-committee on CSME to come up with an action plan not only to remove those barriers to identify some specific areas, some specific products for example the poultry industry where we can develop a strategic approach to achieve the outcomes,” he said.

The President emphasised that the poultry industry has many business opportunities. Dr. Ali said there is input for feed production, corn, soya and protein materials and then there is the output of processed meats. President Ali said those are business opportunities that must be led by the private sector and supported by an enabling environment.

Discussions were also held on improving transportation within the Region and creating an easier environment for agro-business, the involvement of young people, access to capital and looking at legislation to deal with dumping and anti-dumping measures.

The President said the efforts can lead to shared markets, prosperity and ways agriculture can be integrated with other sectoral development such as energy.

The sum of $22.6 billion has been earmarked in Budget 2021 to boost agriculture in Guyana. Government will be investing heavily to develop farm-to-market roads, improve drainage and irrigation and build human resource capacity to deliver the services required to drive growth in the sector, among other initiatives.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh during his budget presentation, said the initiatives will position Guyana to take its place as the breadbasket of the Caribbean.