Guyana/Barbados cooperation, a model for other CARICOM states – President Ali
His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Friday, said the partnership between Guyana and Barbados sets a model for other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states to follow, to achieve food security and confront some of the global challenges facing the region, including the rising cost for food.
President Ali was at the time delivering the feature address, at the opening of the 18th ‘Agro Fest’- The National Agricultural Exhibition, at Queen’s Park, Bridgetown, Barbados. He is accompanied by several government representatives, including the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P. and the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, M.P.
“Like many other developing economies, when there is a shortage of supplies, we are not the top priority for the demand that exists. That is why we have to do this, and we have to fix it as a collective. We have to understand that the challenges that will come, will impact us the most and our only tool to mitigate those challenges is to increase production and remove sometimes, the thoughtless impediments to trading between our [region],” President Ali said.
In addition to increasing agricultural production, he said people should aim to consume food that is grown and produced within the region. Farmers, producers and other private sector partners, have a major role to play in this, the Guyanese Head of State said.
“If we produce more of what we consume, we will help to break the cycle of consumption that comes from extra regional sources, and you have an excellent opportunity now because Governments in the region are ready and willing to embrace you on this journey of transforming our food infrastructure, our food value chain.”
President Ali spoke of the economic partnership between Guyana and Barbados, that aims to provide prosperity and food security to the people of both states. Dr, Ali said once the results of this model is realised, it can be replicated across the region.
He said, “we are trying to demonstrate that we want to create a trusting environment, an enabling environment in which we must work, trusting each other. This is an important factor in advancing the relationship. It is because of the new dynamism in this relationship, this trust that I am talking about that today, we have more than 150 Guyanese participating in this Agro Fest, we have more than 55 companies participating, and this is only the beginning.”
Among the initiatives being undertaken between Guyana and Barbados, is the establishment of a food terminal in the latter country. Seven acres of land has been identified for the terminal, which will boast a cold storage facility and processing and packaging plants. Guyana will be facilitating a visit from a team from neighbouring Brazil, which will be working with residents, farmers and distributors, on the use of technology to advance the agriculture sector.
Additionally, a number of young people from Barbados are in Guyana, receiving training in shade house agriculture development and management. President Ali announced that Guyana is currently preparing to ship to Barbados, the first set of prefab shade houses that will be assembled by young people.
Further, Guyana is setting aside acres of land for young people, single women, as well as persons living with disabilities, under the black belly sheep project.
As the two countries seek to merge its tourism product, discussions are ongoing for the training of 6000 Guyanese in tourism and hospitality.
“This relationship must advance security, and we are not talking about security in the narrow sense of physical security…the security we are talking about in the Guyana-Barbados model, is how we can ensure our countries remain secure under the environmental threats, and the threats of climate change,” the President emphasised.
Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley said the relationship between Guyana and Barbados dates back 170 years, when Barbadians left in droves just after emancipation to Guyana, to help build the sugar industry and the factories. Guyana was able to repay that by leading the process of industrialisation in Barbados, in the 1950s-1070s.
Guyanese have also worked back and forth over the last 20 years, boosting Barbados’ construction and agriculture sectors.
“We believe that we are standing on a strong platform and that it is time now for us to move to the next level, especially as we face these multiple challenges that have confronted us, over the course of the last two years…President Ali and Minister Mustapha have been able to move with lightning speed over the course of the last 18 months, to put this region in a position where we not only endorse the plan in March, in Belize, at the CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, but were able then to meet in Guyana last week in perhaps one of the largest agricultural investment forum ever to be held in this Caribbean region in the post-independence era.”
This is the first Agro Fest after a two-year hiatus, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being held under the theme, ‘Greening Together Ah Caribbean Thing.’