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CARICOM Heads of Gov’t to private sector: invest more in agriculture

CARICOM Heads of Gov’t to private sector: invest more in agriculture
Chair of CARICOM, His Excellency Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana, speaks at the 46th Heads of Government Meeting held in Georgetown, Guyana 25 – 28 February 2024

CARICOM Heads of Government want regional businesses to take advantage of Suriname’s offer of land for agricultural development. This was confirmed in the Communique issued at the end of the Forty-Sixth Regular Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government.

“Heads of Government … strongly encouraged the regional private sector to take advantage of the proposal from Suriname, which is making available 300,000 Ha of land for regional agricultural development,” the Communique highlighted.

The overture to the private sector emerged from discussions at the Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana, where the Region’s progress on reducing its high food import bill was a key agenda item.

The discussion was held under the chapeau of the Region’s flagship initiative which aims to cut imported food by 25 per cent by 2025. Chair of CARICOM, His Excellency Mohamed Irfan Ali, President of Guyana, is spearheading the initiative in which the private sector is a critical stakeholder. Areas such as investments in the agriculture sector, increasing production and productivity, and improving transportation and logistics are key aspects of this initiative.

Heads of Government also underscored the private sector’s role in taking urgent action to invest in the production of agricultural items for which frequent suspensions of the Common External Tariff (CET) are granted. They urged the Ministerial Taskforce on food production and food security, which Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha chairs, to quicken the pace of identifying other investor-friendly policies and programmes to be implemented under the initiative.

Minister Zulfikar, who provided a report on the progress the Region is making through the 25 by 2025 initiative, pointed to the increased awareness and buy-in to improve food and nutrition security. He highlighted more than 73 projects and programmes which support the initiative, and which are being implemented by more than 13 regional partners and donors.

At a press conference at the conclusion of the Heads of Government Meeting, President Ali said that all Member States are on track to achieve the goals of the initiative.