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CARICOM Secretary General Says Food Security One Of The Highest Caribbean Priorities

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Citing the erosion of food systems worldwide due to various factors, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett has emphasised the importance of food security to the Region.

“Food security is now one of the highest priorities for the Caribbean region,” Barnett stated.

She spoke Thursday at the European Union- CARIFORUM Food Security Programme launch.

It occurred at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana.

The CARICOM Secretary-General noted that the global food crisis had been years in the making.

“Rising acute food insecurity and increasing food prices indicate that the resilience of food systems has been eroding around the world. The impact of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, high energy prices, and supply chain disruptions have served to increase food insecurity, particularly for the most vulnerable people and countries,” Barnett observed.

She disclosed that at the CARICOM level, the Region’s strategy included developing an Agriculture Disaster Recovery Plan.

Barnett also mentioned the goal of a 25% reduction in CARICOM’s food import bill by 2025 and promoting cross-border investments in agricultural production, agro-processing, transportation, and logistics.

She said estimates indicated that at least US$4 billion in new investments may be required to achieve ‘25% by 2025’.

Barnett told the Guyana event that the Region welcomed the European Union’s decision to mobilise EUR 600 million from the European Development Fund reserves.

The funds will support the Member States of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States to mitigate the effects of food crises.

“We also welcome the decision to ringfence approximately EUR 27 million to support CARIFORUM States,” she stated.

Barnett explained that food security systems and food and nutrition security challenges in the Caribbean have increased significantly.

She said most countries in the Region are food importers facing common challenges, including access to financing, high trade costs, and climate change.

In addition, the CARICOM Secretary-General declared that because imported food is largely preserved with high percentages of salt, sugar, and fats, they contribute to the crisis of non-communicable diseases in the Region.

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