“Serious action is needed now to achieve the SDGs,” – Minister Mustapha during UN Food Systems Summit

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha noted that in order for countries to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, serious actions must be taken immediately. The minister made these remarks on Wednesday during a side event at the United Nations Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome, Italy.

While presenting Guyana’s case as it relates to using National Pathways as a platform for enhancing public policies with close support from the UN system, Minister Mustapha said it should be noted that there is still some way to go before the UN SDGs are achieved.

UN Food Safety Summit 2023

“Serious action is needed now more than ever as our efforts to achieve the SDGs have been confronted with numerous crises on several fronts—financial shocks, the Russia-Ukraine war, climate emergency, and energy access, rising poverty, food insecurity, and inequality. In the Caribbean, our small island developing states have suffered from high food inflation and increased food import bill, given the widespread dependence of the subregion on imported food and agricultural products. The Caribbean Region continues to be among the most affected by food insecurity as the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity increased from 59.5 percent to 60.6 percent, and severe food insecurity increased from 25.7 percent to 28.2 percent in 2022,” he noted

Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

Minister Mustapha also said efforts were being made at a regional level, adding that CARICOM has demonstrated a strong political commitment and a clear plan of action through Vision 25 by 2025.

“This initiative aims to address the reduction of CARICOM’s US$6 Billion food import bill by 25% by the year 2025, which is robust, goal-responsive, and dynamic. It also speaks to partnerships to drive food and agriculture development. Our Regional leaders have assessed the dire situation of the Region and efforts are being made to accelerate the implementation of this Vision. So far, we have seen many policies and initiatives being undertaken to increase food security,” the Minister said.

He further stated that the summit has shown a renewed sense of urgency for financing the national food system pathways transformation, something he said Guyana has been continuously calling for.

Additionally, Minister Mustapha said that through support from the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub through many dialogues and in particular the FAO and IICA local offices, Guyana’s National Pathway for Food Systems Transformation was developed in alignment with existing national and regional policies that are being implemented to enhance food security.

“Guyana’s National Pathway Document takes into account feedback from all stakeholders such as representatives of development partners, private sector, farmers, investors, agencies in the agricultural sector, technical experts, government ministries, agro-processors, NGOs, and civil society, during the National High-level dialogue that was held on Food System Transformation and therefore addresses challenges across the entire food system and not just one aspect,” he added.

While noting that the programmes being executed by the Government of Guyana and its development partners are yielding great results due to the integrated approach taken when implementing measures, Minister Mustapha said that Guyana strongly advocates for a targeted approach to food security that involves the integration of the agriculture, health, education, and technology sectors, along with climate change mitigation so that food security can be better guaranteed by our efforts towards achieving Agenda 2030.