CDB, experts to examine proposals for regional food security

…on heels of regional discussion at Agri-Investment Forum in Guyana

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has said that it has assembled a team of experts who will examine proposals for improving regional food security, on the heels of the discussions that have been had in Guyana during the recently concluded Agri-Investment Forum and Expo.

The Caribbean Development Bank

In a statement, the Bank announced that the team of experts will examine strategies for transforming the agri-food sector, with an emphasis on improving cross-border trade, with a view of assisting the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in its commitment to reduce its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
The experts will speak at the 52nd Annual Meeting with Food Security Seminar on June 1, 2022, in the Turks and Caicos Islands. CDB Vice President of Operations, Isaac Solomon, who will be speaking at the event described the webinar as timely.
“The flow of goods in the Caribbean remains hamstrung by an inadequate logistics ecosystem while countries continue to encounter challenges related to infrastructure and activities along the value chain.”
“The Region’s private sector, which is comprised primarily of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), is faced with constrained access and limited penetration of markets within and beyond Caricom,” Solomon said.
It was explained that representatives of the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Caricom Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the private and public sector will be attending the seminar and will seek to identify opportunities for unlocking regional markets for agri-food MSMEs.
“Discussions will also explore how the region can increase trade in agriculture and its related commodities and support intensified efforts to achieve food security and increase the participation of MSMEs and the private sector.”
“Recommendations from the business sector to unravel problems at each point in the logistics ecosystem restricting the movement of goods from the producer to the shipper, to the port and then to the shelves will be presented,” they further explained.
Meanwhile, regional infrastructure inclusive of road networks, seaports and airports, existing warehousing, storage and distribution centres, regulatory agencies including border security agencies and other elements of the logistics networks will be examined.
When it comes to discussions on regional food security, CDB noted the importance of addressing the logistical challenges that connectivity places on regional trade. This means that the seminar will build on the successes of various countries in the agriculture sector and examine the role of regional institutions in supporting the objectives of regional governments.
This seminar is intended as the first of several to be held as part of the Bank’s Annual Meeting of its highest decision-making body, the Board of Governors. The 52nd Annual Meeting is being held after a two-year hiatus of in-person events due to prevailing travel restrictions.
“This year’s meeting and related activities revolve around the theme measure better to target better and will chart a course for adaptation and resilience as the Bank intensifies support its Borrowing Member Countries to close distance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” CDB explained.
“The SDG in focus at this webinar is SDG two – ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. The webinar entitled, Regional Food Security: Streamlining Logistics to Bring Products to Market will be streamed on the Bank’s social media platform.”
The 52nd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the CDB is scheduled for June 14-16, 2022. The CDB’s reference to “25 per cent by 2025” has its genesis in the Guyana Government’s aggressive campaign to dismantle regional barriers to agricultural trade. President Dr Irfaan Ali has said that in the next four years, with the assistance of more diversified crops, Guyana would aim to reduce Caricom’s food import bill by 25 per cent.
Months after assuming office, President Ali had charged the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry to assess and address the hurdles related to exporting food and agricultural products to markets within the Region. As such, concerns about barriers to trade in some Caricom markets were raised with the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) earlier this year.
The Ministry subsequently formed a National Working Group on Barriers to Trade against Exports from Guyana. According to the assessment on market access by the Working Group, most of the challenges found were related to technical measures including sanitary and phytosanitary measures. It also found several technical and administrative regulations that were all hampering the export of Guyanese products.