CARICOM leaders praise President Ali for championing region’s agri sector revitalisation

Members of the Caribbean community (CARICOM) have given President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali ‘thumbs up’ for his passion in driving the region’s food agenda. The Guyanese leader received the commendation Friday, during the official launch of the historic Agri- Investment Forum and Expo to be held in Guyana from May 19-21.

[From left] President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d), Hon. Mark Phillips, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, and Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, M.P, during the official launch of the Agri Forum and Expo on Friday.

CARICOM’s Secretary General, Carla Barnett said Dr. Ali has championed the thrust towards the revitalisation of the agriculture sector and even conceptualised the mechanisms to drive the process of reducing the region’s food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

CARICOM’s Secretary General, Carla Barnett

The secretary general said the expo is an important step to achieving the clear objective set by the regional leaders, and will also promote and improve the productivity and resilience of the region’s agri-food system.

“He has therefore helped the region to send out the clear message that we are serious about the development of the agriculture sector, and by extension our food and nutrition security,” Barnett added.

CARICOM’s Chairman, John Antonio Briceño

CARICOM’s Chairman, John Antonio Briceño said the strategy laid out by President Ali in creating a pathway to achieve CARICOM’s medium-term goal of reducing the food import bill was adopted during the last Heads of Government meeting in Belize.

He stated that the forum holds special significance for the Caribbean community.

“On behalf of the community, I commend the leadership of President Irfaan Ali who has lead head for agriculture and food security, has brought renewed energy and strategic focus to our efforts at the regional level,” he added.  

A section of the gathering during the official launch of the historic Agri-Investment Forum and Expo on Friday.

Moreover, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said his country will be represented at the forum. He stressed the need for building agriculture to ensure food security in the region.

“President Irfaan Ali has a plan and we need to interrogate that plan and we also require investment, not only from the State, but very much from the private sector across the region, and globally to invest in agriculture and agro-processing,” Dr. Gonsalves emphasised.

Further, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Hon. Mia Motley, pointed out that the hosting of the event is not only responding to the global conditions, but a move that will ensure citizens of the respective states are healthy. 

“We have a solemn obligation to our people, to feed our people…this is now our mission. I trust and pray that those of us who come to Georgetown on May 19, will find it possible therefore to pull together all of the aspects and the plan necessary, from planting, from rearing livestock to logistics to marketing to packaging, and of course advertising and being sensitive to the likes and dislikes of our population,” PM Motley highlighted.

The achievement of a 25 percent reduction in CARICOM’s food import bill by 2025, targets a significant increase in production of some key products such as poultry, corn and soya, fish, sheep, goats and a range of fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, the initiative will also address several cross-cutting issues such as the removal of various barriers to trade, mobilising financing, developing insurance, market facilitation and transportation.

The forum and expo will bring together investors and other stakeholders who will share information on the specific opportunities that exist for enhanced commercial activities.

It is expected that coming out of the engagement, there will be concrete investment opportunities that can be pursued, and for which the necessary support can be provided.  

The event will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

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