Guyana to continue Chairmanship of LARC-38 proceedings for the next two years

Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, will serve as the chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 38th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean until the next conference which is scheduled to take place in Brazil come 2026.

Over the next two years, the FAO will be hosting several high-level meetings and conferences as part of a series of follow-up sessions to discuss the progress made in implementing the interventions and recommendations discussed during LARC-38.

Minister Mustapha also served as Chair for the Ministerial Session which took place during the conference.

The next high-level meeting is scheduled to take place in Chile in May 2024 where Ministers of Agriculture and other high-level officials from Latin America and the Caribbean will convene to discuss the steps taken following the four days of progressive dialogue during LARC-38.

During the closing session, Minister Mustapha said during the four-day conference which was held in Georgetown Guyana from March 18 to 21, 2024, participants were able to delve into critical issues affecting our region.

“Over the past four days, we have witnessed remarkable discussions, collaborations, and insights that have undoubtedly enriched our collective understanding and efforts. Throughout this conference, we have delved into critical issues affecting our region, from advancing fisheries and aquaculture towards sustainability under the Blue Transformation approach; targeted investment for resilient, sustainable, and inclusive agri-food systems under the Hand-In-Hand Initiative; reducing hunger and malnutrition for today and tomorrow through trade as strategic driver of food security in the region; agri-food systems transformation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Latin America and the Caribbean; addressing the challenges of the water–forest biodiversity–soil nexus in a climate change context; and foresight drivers and triggers relevant for Latin America and the Caribbean,” he explained.

Minister Mustapha also called for participating member states to ensure there is a clear focus on greater use of technology in the food production system, more involvement of women and youth in agriculture, and creating resilient and climate-protected agri-food systems.

He indicated that areas are central to the task going forward, and further pointed out that decision-making must be data-driven as far as possible.

Meanwhile, FAO’s Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mario Lubetkin during a closing press briefing said the thirty-three countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are united in achieving food security for all and that the Regional Ministerial Conference has innovated ways to transform agri-food systems based on FAO’s four betters.

He also disclosed that countries had approved the regional priorities to transform the agri-food systems to become more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.

“In line with the FAO’s Strategic Framework and the commitment to supporting the 2030 Agenda, countries approved the regional priorities to transform the agri-food systems to become more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. These priorities are interconnected and ensure that no one is left behind,” he explained.

He also said that member states have identified several critical themes for advancing the agenda of eradicating hunger and poverty while enhancing countries’ capacity to attract targeted investments through implementing the Hand in Hand initiative.

Additionally, he noted, that member states have recognized the urgent need to build resilience in the Caribbean, particularly for Small Island Developing States, given the multiple shocks and risks they face, including the escalating threat of climate change.

Back in April 2022 during LARC-37, Guyana was nominated to host this year’s conference. This is the first time the conference was held in Guyana and came at a time when the country is playing the leading role in agriculture and food security matters in CARICOM.

The Ministerial Session was attended by 719 participants from 33 member states, including one Head of State; one Prime Minister; one Deputy Prime Minister; 28 Ministers; 14 Vice-Ministers; five Permanent Secretaries; 15 Ambassadors; three Observer Members; Representatives of eight United Nations (UN) organizations; 13 Intergovernmental Organizations; six Civil Society Organizations; one Parliamentary Front against Hunger Representative; six Private Sector Organizations; and 10 Scientific and Academic Organizations.