Political will, investments essential to achieving food security – VP Jagdeo

For CARICOM to successfully achieve a reduction in its large food bill by 25 per cent by 2025, Caribbean leaders and the private sector must pour greater investments in infrastructure, innovation and technology while also creating enabling legislation and fiscal incentives for key industry players.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo expressed this firm stance during the Agri Investment Forum and Expo’s afternoon session held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where he highlighted the Low Carbon Development Strategy’s (LCDS2030) role in advancing agriculture development.

The vice president lamented the ‘embarrassingly’ small investments being allocated to the agriculture sector in individual countries, which will not push the sector to become a viable one.

Some US$7 billion worth of investments are required to achieve the 25 by 2025 goal. However, the vice president believes that not even $US500 million has been invested over the past years in agriculture.

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo addressing the Agri Investment Forum and Expo’s afternoon session

He questioned, “How are we going to achieve a 25 per cent cut by 2025 if we don’t invest? And it requires money to achieve that … the goals are important but they have to be supported by the policy environment and investments both by the public and private sectors to achieve.”

“Governments in our region need to invest in agriculture and to think of different ways of doing it, even underwriting some of the risks for insurance,”
he expressed.

A section of the conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre

Fiscal incentives that are currently being offered to the tourism industry and other sectors, should also be mirrored in the agriculture area, as well as integrating newer technologies and a rethink of the sector. Advanced infrastructure will also aid the growth of the agriculture sector into a viable one.

“We have to have a sustained policy environment or we have to address this matter in a sustained way and that requires political capital to be expended. It requires an understanding and a commitment on the part of each country, to do the things that are necessary to allow the growth of a viable agriculture sector,” the vice president further articulated.

Although the Caribbean region is restricted from attaining climate resilience and adaption due to lack of funding, Guyana with fiscal resources earned from the LCDS 2030, is charting its path.

The government in the next three years, the VP stated, is expected to expend around US$500 million for climate adaptation purposes and climate proofing in the country’s agriculture sector.

However, with the Caribbean region still challenged, Dr Jagdeo underlined the necessity of unity when highlighting the need for funding from the international community at the upcoming, COP28.

The Agri Investment Forum and Expo runs from October 20-22 under the theme ‘Achieving Vision 25 by 2025’.