Regional cooperation essential to tackling food insecurity | Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Cooperation is imperative to tackling food insecurity in the Caribbean region.

While speaking at the opening of Agrofest 2022, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali highlighted that a regional consensus was necessary to enhance food production and accessibility to food.

“We cannot see ourselves as competitors. We cannot see ourselves as opposite sides of the same wicket. We have to see ourselves as a singular collective, a singular partner working together for one common goal and vision that is to give the best possible opportunity to the people of our country, to bring prosperity to the people of our country, to put food on the tables of our people in this region at less cost, at a sustainable cost and in a much healthier fashion,” he told those gathered at the Queen’s Park on Friday.

The opening of Agrofest 2022 was also attended by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, St Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation & Labour, Saboto Caesar, United Nations World Food Programme Representative & Country Director, Regis Chapman, and other officials from the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

President Ali championed local producers to step up and “break the cycle of consumption that comes from extra-regional sources

“Not only must we produce more, but we also must change our consumption pattern. We must look more towards what we produce as farmers and Government, as private sector or as distributors. All of us must be part of this process.

“You have to see ourselves more than distributors now. You also must be part of the production process. You must expand your business model to be part of the production process.

If we don’t do this, then we cannot reliably secure and sustain the present business model. Our business model must change. It is only when that business model changes that we can pull all the segments of our society together. If we distribute more of what we produce, we will help them break the cycle of consumption that comes from extra-regional sources,” he asserted.

During his feature address, President Ali spoke about Guyana/Barbados partnership and future plans. He stated that more than 50 businesses and 150 exhibitors from Guyana will be participating in the two-day agricultural showcase, Agrofest.

He also disclosed that Barbados and Guyana will be working together to develop Guyana’s tourism sector, with approximately 6,000 Guyanese students set to receive training in the hospitality sector. He detailed that this symbiotic relationship will extend into not only tourism and agriculture.

“We are already examining development partners and stakeholders that will work with us to help us to move limestone to Guyana, to bring corn and soya to Barbados as input the cheaper costs the health of people producers. That will help the poultry farmers, and the livestock farmers. We are working aggressively on twinning our economies starting with tourism.”

“I’ve already discussed this with Prime Minister Mottley, that we are working to create a link between northern Brazil and Barbados directly so that you can access millions of people as a new market for your tourism. We have offered space to Barbados in our consulate office in the state of Roraima where Barbados Tourism Authority would establish themselves to promote Barbados and advance your tourism product,” he shared.

President Ali went on to announce that his Government will be providing 50 acres of land to young and vulnerable individuals who sought to participate in the Black Belly Sheep programme.

“We are setting aside 50 acres of land to be owned by young people as part of the Black Belly Sheep project in Guyana. Fifty acres to be owned by persons with disability, 50 acres to be owned by single-parent women and importantly, 50 acres that will be owned by your young people here in Barbados.

“These funds will be working together in an integrated way to supply the market here. We are working on training your butchers here so that they can do the best cuts and Barbados can work on creating that logistics hub of moving these products on along the market chain,” he further explained.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley went on to express her gratitude to President Ali for his partnership, saying: “I thank you President Ali yet again, for ensuring that once again you opened up the opportunities for our two countries to work together in this critical area of housing. So whether it is in the area of agriculture and food security, whether it is in the area of housing, whether it is in the area of the logistics, whether it is in the area of the Gold Exchange, whatever it is, we have recognized that in this world, you are not going to be able to succeed if we try on our own.