Caribbean moving to end hunger, malnutrition by 2030 – CARICOM Chair

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) efforts to slash the US$5 billion food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025 will now be extended to include ending hunger and malnutrition in the region by 2030, as 57 per cent of the region’s population is affected by food insecurity.

CARICOM’s Chairman, responsible for Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security, President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali in his address to the opening of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM Sunday evening, expresses concern about the development.

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali addressing CARICOM leaders gathered at the National Culture Centre (NCC)

The Guyanese president revealed that a proposal is currently being worked on to activate the region’s human assets to address the issue.

“…big names, we have to use these assets to mobilise resources and create an ambassadorial mission so that we can raise resources, revenue to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition … We have the capability, we have the Usain Bolt, we have the Chris Gale,” the CARICOM chair underscored.

To achieve this goal, it is crucial to remove trade barriers that have long constrained food security efforts which are of no use to the region, President Ali emphasised.

“The people of CARICOM must put pressure on the leaders of CARICOM to remove trade barriers. It is of no use and purpose for this region. We are too small to be competing against each other” he further expressed.

Meanwhile, several initiatives will be explored under his chairmanship, including partnerships with the Canadian government to implement projects from its agri-value-added programme.

Discussions have already been advanced with Canada’s Minister of International Development, Ahmed Hussain.

“For this region, this is important because we have to build our regional food system for resilience and sustainability against many different shocks compared to the rest of the world,” President Ali noted.

He added, “The minister has committed to not only engaging us, but working with us in the coming weeks to finalise projects and programmes to be financed by the region, focusing on youth, and women’s involvement in innovative agriculture.”

The community will also work along with the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia on a Regional Sustainable Resilient Project for US$25 million, which is currently being finalised.

Moreover, Guyana will undertake an investment to develop a Centre of Excellence that will support regional food security and production. This centre will focus on research and development, real-time data technology, and predictive decision-making modules to help farmers, among other integral initiatives in conjunction with the private sector

Over the next three days, several persistent issues, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the progress towards implementing the free movement of all Caribbean nationals will be discussed.

Climate change and climate financing, regional security, including the situation in Haiti and border issues, regional transportation, and financial matters, including replenishment of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), are among some of the areas for discussion.

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