By Chevon Farley
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Sunday, May 22, 2022) — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, said agriculture has the potential to aid in economic recovery throughout the region, and push socio-economic development.
She made the statement, during the ceremonial launch of the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo, held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre in Georgetown Guyana, last Thursday.
The Secretary-General noted that agriculture, “has the potential to contribute significantly, to economic recovery, resilience, and drive socio-economic development for the region. It is a major pillar, upon which we can build, to develop the human and economic capital, which exist within our region.”
She commended Guyana’s President, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali, for hosting the expo, as leader head for government for agriculture in the CARICOM quasi cabinet, and “for having had the foresight, not only to conceive of this investment forum, expo, but for having put dedicated resources, and so much of his own energy, into moving the entire program of regional agricultural revitalisation forward”.
The aim of the forum and expo is to provide opportunities for investments, new projects development, and technological advancement for CARICOM’s agri-food system. The outcome of the event is expected to serve as a medium to enhance production efficiency in the agriculture sector, to ensure food security.
Dr. Barnett highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and war between Ukraine and Russia, on the economies of Caribbean states; adding that the global uncertainty places increased stress on the livelihood of vulnerable citizens and governments’ budgets.
The Secretary-General urged member states to integrate women and youths in the agriculture sector.
“We must take deliberate steps to ensure that we recognise the role that women and youth already play as farmers, but we must fully also integrate our women and youth into our mainstream planning for agriculture development.
“I am therefore, happy to note that there will be special sessions, dedicated to addressing the concerns and aspirations of these two important groups of stakeholders.”
Additionally, Dr. Barnett said private investments are necessary to sustain growth and productivity in the agriculture sector.
To this end, she elaborated that funding agriculture and rural development, agricultural research, national transportation, allied sectors and services that play important roles in bringing technological solutions to farming communities and bring production to markets, are required.
“We are not underestimating the task at hand. Success will require an increase in support from our governments, to alleviate the technological, logistical and financing constraints, faced by our producers,” Dr. Barnett asserted.