Caribbean countries commit to building agricultural resilience

On Monday Caribbean agriculture ministers committed themselves to build the resilience of their agrifood systems to tackle the challenges they are experiencing as a result of the region's vulnerability to climate-change-related natural disasters.

The regional agriculture ministers met with their counterparts from the wider American hemisphere at the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture 2021, which was held virtually, under the theme of “Sustainable Agrifood Systems, the Engine of Development of the Americas”.

“In Barbados, this year we have had to endure the passage of Hurricane Elsa and we are still in the hurricane season, so we must ensure that the entire Caribbean is protected,” he said, thanking the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for its work to achieve agricultural sustainability in the Caribbean and commended the Director-General, Manuel Otero, for his re-election to head the organization for a second term.

Jamaica's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, lamented the fact that his country's productive sector suffered tremendous losses because of the passage of Tropical Storm Ida. “Now is the time to work to transform agrifood systems and that is what the Caricom member countries are doing. Climate change challenges are enormous,” he said, while expressing his appreciation for IICA's contributions in assisting his country to introduce greater technological innovation to benefit small farmers.

Also participating in the conference was the newly appointed Caricom Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, who said that the Caribbean countries are attempting to transform their agrifood systems, while also boosting production resilience, in a bid to achieve a 25 percent cut in the high level of food imports by 2025.

“Transforming agrifood systems will require funding from public and private entities and from national and international partners. To do so, we will need innovative financial instruments and investment models that allow us to introduce new technologies to small producers, so that they can begin to employ solar energy, hydroponics, aquaponics, smart greenhouses, and water harvesting and storage,” said Barnett.

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