Development institutions can play greater role in addressing regional food insecurity – President Ali

As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) progresses in its 25 per cent reduction of the food import bill by 2025 initiative, international developmental entities can play a more active role in the implementation of policy initiatives to address the issue of food insecurity.

In his virtual address at the CAWI’s Caribbean Leaders’ Open Dialogue on Tuesday, His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali stressed that more technical support can be offered by institutions such as the World Bank.

“The adaptation cost for the developing world annually is estimated at US$150 million to US$ 300 million. We are not asking you to meet any adaptation costs. But, if you are talking about food security in a climate resilient environment, then how are you going to help us to acquire the technology and to modernise the agricultural system to address the very issues we have raised?” the president questioned.

He said issues, such as labour shortages, climate change and the development of new planting materials, require an aggressive, collaborative effort.

The head of state explained, “We don’t want the World Bank to tell us that they are going to do studies. We have enough studies on the table. We have enough data. The development agencies need to get out of this initial reaction of being study-oriented organisations. I see a great role for the World Bank, but that must not be an evaluation role or a report production role. That role has to be one that fits into the solution.”

The head of state added that while government encourages further involvement of these entities in the CARICOM 25 by 2025 initiative, Guyana will continue to recognise and utilise its capabilities in advancing this agenda, as opposed to relying on assistance or coaching from external parties.

“We have to use the solutions available to make it work for us,” he added.

Technology is necessary to enhance productivity, and this is something that the government is committed to advancing.

“We’re working on many different initiatives to see how we can advance this agenda in a very rapid way,” the president remarked while noting that the region is committed to playing its part in finding solutions to the issues of food insecurity.

To this end, the country has seen an aggressive approach being taken to strengthen and build capacity in the agriculture sector, as well as in incorporating technology in its processes.

Earlier this year, President Ali announced that the bilateral relationship between India and Guyana will see the development of a regional agri-tech campus to support the regional food hub. This campus is expected to deal with the technological aspect, research and development, training and improvement in policies that will lead to greater yields and productivity.

Recognising the transient nature of the oil resource, the PPP/C Government has remained steadfast in its charge to achieving self-sufficiency and sustainability, meticulously crafting policies that are geared towards strengthening and preserving the country’s non-oil sectors to promote diversity.

The Caribbean Association of the World Bank Group and IMF Staff (CAWI) Caribbean Leaders Open Dialogue consisted of a panel of Caribbean leaders and experts in the field addressing issues relating to food insecurity in the Caribbean, such as the management of accelerating food prices, food production adaptation amid climate change, and the role of policymakers in addressing the food insecurity crisis.