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 on Thursday last.
Dr. Barnett 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.”
The secretary general commended His Excellency, 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 programme of regional agricultural revitalisation forward.”
The forum and expo seeks to provide opportunities for investments, new projects development, and technological advancement for CARICOM’s agri-food system. The outcome of the event will 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. She stated 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, 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 support from our governments to alleviate the technological, logistical and financing constraints faced by our producers,” Dr. Barnett asserted.