CARICOM Ministerial Taskforce discuss possible ‘Parliamentary Front’ against hunger

virtual CWA scheduled for October

Today, members of the Ministerial Taskforce on Food Production and Food Security participated in a virtual dialogue to discuss progress made to date to develop a strategy to advance CARICOM’s agri-food systems agenda.

The meeting was the second of several planned meetings as CARICOM Member States work together to improve agriculture in the Region.

Members of the Ministerial Task force during their second virtual engegement

During the meeting, participating Agriculture Ministers and other senior officials from across the Region provided updates on their country’s efforts to develop supporting documents to address agriculture-related issues in CARICOM.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha who also serves as the Chairman of the Task Force reminded the officials of the group’s mandate.

“The objective of the Task Force is to guide the regional position towards the transformation of the agri-food system allowing for a significantly more resilient, wealth-generating, and food secure Region.

I know after the last meeting we were all tasked with developing country-specific documents highlighting ways an integrated approach can be taken to improve agriculture in our country and CARICOM. As a Task Force, we have to ensure we set attainable goals and work together for the common good of the CARICOM agri-food systems agenda.”

The Task Force also discussed the development of a Parliamentary Front in each member state.

CARICOM FAO Programme Liaison, Mr. Sandiford Edwards said the objective of the Parliamentary Front was to develop a process that brings Parliamentarians together to develop, implement and adopt laws and policies that surround and promote zero hunger and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Two (SDG 2).

“The Parliamentary Front against hunger is designed and expected to be a country-driven, country-owned process that integrates or brings Parliamentarians or legislators together to develop, implement and adopt laws and policies that surround and promote zero hunger and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Two (SDG 2). In 2009, the Caribbean and Latin America would’ve formed their Parliamentary Front against hunger to promote the fight against malnutrition, the fight against food insecurity, et cetera.

Having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it would’ve had on lives, especially in the rural communities, the FAO is prepared and is working with a number of countries in the Caribbean, particularly St. Vincent and The Grenadines, who would’ve already set up a Zero Hunger Trust Fund. They (FAO) are supporting Grenada with a project, as well as Haiti, Jamaica, and to a certain extent, The Bahamas, to work with governments to assist in the promotion of laws and policies to fight against hunger,” he said.

Mr. Edwards also noted that over the next few months the FAO is seeking to engage Parliamentarians and Ministers to first of all, define and build awareness about the ‘Parliamentary Front’ and how it can be used to ensure food security in the Region.

Plans were also discussed for the hosting of this year’s Caribbean Week of Agriculture. With the ongoing pandemic putting a pause on the hosting of large events and mass gatherings, it was decided at the Regional level that the best alternative would be to host the event virtually, with each participating country having events to commemorate the occasion.

Caribbean Week of Agriculture is expected to take place from October 4-8, 2021.  Guyana, which has once again taken the lead on agriculture in CARICOM, will also be observing Agriculture Month in October. The Ministry of Agriculture is scheduled to host a month of activities across the country. These events usually include trade fairs, farmers’ market days, school sensitisation exercises and specialised extension services.  

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