250 exhibitors, 550 delegates to converge for Agri Forum and Expo
…investors to tap into potential markets
…as Guyana leads agri-food agenda for Region
Undertaking the mantle to lead the agri-food agenda for the Caribbean Region while cutting the colossal food import bill, Guyana will be the hub for potential investment talks this week at the inaugural Agri-Investment Expo and Forum.
Preparations are in the final stage for the hosting of the three-day event, organised at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on the East Coast of Demerara with key input from Caricom.
Over 250 exhibitors have already booked their booth, with international stakeholders from countries such as Jamaica, the United States of America, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana and Barbados.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha shared during Monday’s update of the event that 82 local agro-processors will be involved. Some 550 delegates – 400 of whom are overseas-based – will be in attendance.
During the event, potential investors and donors will discuss emerging opportunities for agriculture in Caricom. A matching of bankable agricultural projects with willing private and public financiers will also advance the food system agenda for the region.
Thus far, five Heads of Government from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica; and Trinidad and Tobago will attend. The Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and the Premier of Montserrat will also be arriving. The Agriculture Ministers of the Bahamas, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominica and Barbados will be part of this event.
Commenting on the support received from regional counterparts, Mustapha underscored, “This is demonstrative of the priority that has been placed on the much-needed commitment and investment in agriculture and food security; and aligns with the vision for this sector of President Irfaan Ali.”
He added, “Guyana, as the inaugural host, is not only demonstrating its unwavering commitment to the development and modernisation of the agriculture sector, but is realising its potential in being the hub and breadbasket for this sector and the region. Interest, partnership and confidence continue to grow here in Guyana and across the region, as exemplified by the increasing number of young people who are getting involved.”
At the 32rd Inter-Sessional Conference of the Caricom Heads of Government, a special ministerial task force was established and tasked with guiding the transformation of the regional agri-food system towards full commercialisation. A prime focus was to address the rising food import bill and to stimulate investment in agriculture and food production.
By the 33rd Sessional Conference, President Irfaan Ali had presented a detailed plan for commercialising the agri-food sector and at the same time, attaining the vision for reducing the food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. Emphasis was placed on countries and their respective target areas. The Heads of States had also agreed on an agriculture forum and expo, cementing a platform for investment in the regional agriculture sector.
“The forum is therefore geared towards the promotion, engagement and informed dialogue among key stakeholders along the agri-food value chain of policymakers, development partners, foreign and local private investors, farmers, distributors, and on how investment could be encouraged,” the Agriculture Minister asserted.
Assistant Secretary General for Trade and Economic Integration at the Caricom Secretariat, Joseph Cox zeroed in on the US$6 billion food import bill for the region during the press conference, identifying the vast potential for investors to tap into.
“That’s US$6 billion of potential opportunities for the region that we have to seek to capitalise on. We’re extremely buoyed by the interest that has been shown from countries all over the world and indeed by participants who continue to bombard us at Caricom and Guyana in terms on how they can participate. There is an appetite for it and it is full time that we start to treat with, and confront the opportunities that exist.”
The event runs from May 19 to 21, 2022, in which the public will be able to visit the participating booths. The forum is exclusively for registered delegates. (G12)