The role of the Caribbean in the transformation of agricultural and food systems


The successful transformation of the region’s agri-food systems requires ownership, political commitment and action plans, the author writes. Credits: Wadner Pierre/IPS
  • Opinion by Mario Lubetkin (Santiago)
  • Inter Press Service

This region is highly vulnerable to extreme events, climate variability and climate change. Increasingly extreme weather conditions, shifting precipitation patterns, rising temperatures, recurring droughts and floods, among others, pose an unprecedented threat that can cause significant socio-economic and environmental damage.

The recent 44th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), chaired by the Bahamas, highlighted some of the key challenges facing food production in the region. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has focused on implementing joint strategies in support of Caribbean countries’ priorities and discussing new ways for the Caribbean to transform agri-food systems.

For the first time, the FAO was invited to address this important discussion at the 17th Special Session of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR). The FAO recognized CARICOM’s strong efforts to implement the Agri-Food Systems Strategy in Member States to help reduce the Caribbean’s large food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

The organization supports the development of priority value chains to contribute to lowering the food import bill in the region. It does this by working with governments and key stakeholders to design and improve strategies, best practices and opportunities for attracting investment to help boost intra-regional trade.

In this context, the CARICOM heads of government have also supported the project proposal “Building food security through innovation, resilience, sustainability and empowerment” presented by Guyana; and FAO is working closely with member countries to advance a climate finance mobilization strategy to fund innovative initiatives such as new animal feeds, optimizing greenhouses, soil and land mapping. FAO supports governments and communities in building capabilities to comprehensively manage multi-risk risks to enhance the resilience of livelihoods and value chains.

It is critical to increase and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of investments throughout the agri-food system. In this regard, FAO, along with the CARICOM Private Sector Organization, agreed to pursue cooperation to improve intra-regional private sector trade and investment in the Caribbean to boost the growth of the agricultural sector.

On the other hand, the last Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the current pro-temporal presidency of which is held by St. Vincent and the Grenadines, concluded with a declaration by 33 Member States , emphasizing a regional commitment to ensure food security and support agricultural and rural development.

This strong commitment from the region’s key government structures will contribute to effective preparation for the next FAO regional conference in Georgetown, Guyana, which will take place in March 2024, and will underline the importance of effective Caribbean involvement in decision-making to reveal. manufacturing process to transform the agri-food systems.

The successful transformation of the region’s agri-food systems requires ownership, political commitment and action plans. It is necessary to coordinate a concerted effort to strengthen technical assistance in the field and increased investment and partnerships in support of food security, the fight against climate change, sustainable production and international fair trade to protect livelihoods and small-scale producers and our guarantee food security.

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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