CELAC Agri Ministers meeting must inspire needed change in Region – President Ali
His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali said that the outcome of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) High-Level Ministers of Agriculture meeting, should produce tangible results that take substantive issues to their respective heads to drive the process of change.
He told a gathering of regional officials at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) in Liliendaal, yesterday, that modernisation and integration are needed measures to ensure viability and sustainability.
The President explained that between 2019 and 2021 the number of hungry people in the region increased by 13.2 million.
He said that food insecurity creates a domino effect that works to undermine all aspects of development.
…The world understands that agriculture is about food production, and food production is about nutrition, and food production and nutrition are about good health, and good health and food production are about national prosperity and national prosperity is about national security.”
Health, education, technology and the involvement of women and young people, the President stated, must be linked and built out to develop an integrated, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food security system.
“We must define the roles of education and health in addressing this topic. The other issue is the role of technology. We are all aware that we are from a region that is susceptible to natural disasters. How do we apply the right technologies to ensure resilience and sustainability? How do we develop as a region a technological support system that will help farmers, and that will make us resilient in terms of food production?”
The President underscored that technology is linked to sustainability, resilience and applicability and is a key factor in moving away from the traditional, laborious forms of agriculture.
“Technology helps us to ensure we can develop systems that make women entrepreneurs and we have set ourselves a target here in Guyana in building out the livestock industry, where 35% of those farms must be owned by women and young people.”
The Head of State also stressed that the meeting should identify all the deficiencies in the trading system that disallows people in the region from experiencing lower food costs, better nutrition, and by extension, food security.
“We have to be able, at this conference, where the policymakers are sitting, not to rehash the problem but to point to the policies and the solutions; to point to your own difficulty as a very frank conversation; to point to the opportunities and to clearly articulate the link between what you do and the national prosperity in every single country.”
If that is accomplished, the President said it would lead to a discussion on integrating agriculture, health, education, and finance, which place food production and nutrition as central to poverty reduction and reducing inequality.
A number of ministers from across the Caribbean and Latin America were at the event.