The Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has spoken out regarding the Region’s ‘unacceptable’ food dependence.
On Tuesday, Ansari Hosein addressed the Caribbean Week of Agriculture opening ceremony in Nassau, The Bahamas.
“With a population of over 16 million, an abundance of natural resources, a favourable climate and human capital which directly supports the production of healthy, wholesome food, it is unacceptable that the Region remains one of the most food-dependent in the world with a very high prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases,” Hosein asserted.
He described the burden of non-communicable diseases as being inextricably linked to the region’s food consumption and responsible for hindering progress towards sustainable development.
Hosein noted that the Region’s food import bill is about 6 billion USD annually.
The CARDI official said in early 2023, food price increases varied between 66.7% and 4.2% for countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
He also observed that the increases impacted food affordability, especially among low-income citizens.
Hosein told his audience that 52% of the English-speaking Caribbean is reported to be moderately to severely food insecure.
In addition, he spoke of the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine, and the Region’s vulnerability to climate-related hazards on food and nutrition security, wealth creation, and employment.
Nevertheless, the CARDI official declared that despite a challenging environment, his organisation is committed to providing the science-based solutions needed to transform and reposition agriculture.
However, Hosein observed that no one agency or member state on their own, can do all that is required.
” Our collective endeavors are needed to achieve vision 25 x 2025,” he explained.
It was a reference to a commitment by CARICOM leaders to reduce the Region’s large food import bill by 25% by 2025.