CARICOM and Latin American officials discuss regional impacts on the agri-food system

Earlier today, representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations along with officials from the Caribbean and Latin American countries met virtually to discuss various impacts on the global agri-food systems.  

This high-level virtual event was organised to allow stakeholders to present updates on the progress made on the roadmaps one year after the UN Food Systems Summit, the effects of the current situation, and the adaptation of the different countries to future challenges, motivating a dialogue on the current situation, towards raising awareness and reaffirming commitments and measures to transform food systems, promoting healthy eating and the protection of the planet.

While speaking on Guyana’s efforts, Agriculture Minister, Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha said Guyana has been investing in strengthening food security in the region by funding several projects and programmes aimed at expanding production.

In his address, Minister Mustapha noted that the government remains committed to increasing production and productivity and easing access to markets for farmers and consumers.

He explained that efforts are also being made to ensure the sector develops resilience which includes youth involvement along with adequate, efficient, and reliable drainage and irrigation systems.

“In 2022, we have launched the Agriculture and Innovation Entrepreneurship Programme that targets the production of high-valued crops while posing as a climate adaptive solution to crop production. It also targets young persons with an interest in agriculture. With that being said, our government has set out to ensure all future food and agriculture projects will have 35% youth involvement. In addition to this, the critical importance of adequate, effective, and reliable drainage and irrigation infrastructure for safety and security is a top priority for the government to reduce the effects of flooding on agricultural food systems,” he explained.

Minister Mustapha also said the government has been implementing mechanisms to advance the roadmaps designed to develop a more resilient agri-food sector. This, he noted, has seen the government engaging in public-private agreements with the local private sector.

“In order to transform food systems despite the many challenges we may encounter, we can employ initiatives or best practices to make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. First, the issue of inadequate finance must be addressed as it is a key driver for food system transformation. Further, to support national efforts to achieve a more balanced and efficient food system and deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, investments are required for the development of production, transportation and logistics, technology, and infrastructure,” he noted.

The minister stated further that, in order to promote strategic transformation and contribute to sustainability goals such as social well-being, ecosystem health, and food and nutrition security on a wider scale, governments can engage in actions that foster diverse, sustainable, and environmentally sound innovations that proliferate across the food chain, opening opportunities for change.

“This includes experiments with new foods, products, services, and business and governance models. Innovations in efficient food supply chains, sustainable agriculture, increased farming, agricultural governance reforms, food waste solutions, and climate-resilient initiatives. The engagement of farmers, consumers, and other agri-food actors is also crucial. Raising farmers’ awareness of their responsibilities and the technical possibilities for transforming food systems will also be key. Technical and financial support for investments needs to be accelerated if we are to achieve changes in agri-food systems,” he added.