Guyana-led regional food security vision touching different corners globally – President Ali
…4 mega UAE firms to join 100+ participants in May Investment Forum & Expo
President Dr Irfaan Ali, who is leading the Caribbean Community’s (Caricom) food security initiative, has disclosed that there is widespread interest by global investors in the “25 by 2025” initiative that focuses on achieving food security in the region.
He made this remark at Friday’s launch of the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo, which will be held in Guyana from May 19 to 21.
Under the theme: “Investing in Vision 25 by 2025”, the event is aimed at promoting and improving the region’s productivity and resilience of its agri food systems, thus, reducing the Caribbean’s food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
According to the Guyanese Head of State, the initiative is already gaining interest from major potential investors. In fact, he disclosed that during his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month, where he led the Caribbean Export Development Agency to attend the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF2022), more than 90 per cent of the conversations he had there were on the region’s agricultural sector.
“And as an emerging oil and gas producer, I’m proud to say that 97 per cent of the conversation in the UAE surrounded food security and agricultural development for the region… And I’m very, very proud of that. Sometimes, we believe things go unnoticed but our vision in Caricom is already touching different corners of the globe,” President Ali stated.
Moreover, he further disclosed that at least 20 international companies including global players in the food trade industry have already confirmed their attendance at next month’s Investment Forum and Expo.
“In the UAE, we have been able to secure in attendance at this forum of four of the largest buyers and distributors of food and agricultural products. They will be coming here to be part of the expo to look at the opportunities. But more than buying and distribution, they invest in the agricultural potential of countries,” the President pointed out.
Among the areas being targeted by these potential Middle East investors are coffee, cocoa, spices and sugar cane.
According to the Head of State, the issue of food security and achieving the “25 by 2025” target is complex and multifaceted, in that it is not only about producing the food but heavily involves finance, technology, partnership, shared responsibilities, job creation, niche markets, and transport and logistics.
As such, it was revealed that the Inter-American Development Bank’s investment arm – IDB Invest, has also committed to not only be involved in the “25 by 2025” vision but also participate in the May event.
In addition, Republic Bank Limited (RBL) has already set aside funds to support this regional initiative. To this end, President Ali called on other regional institutions to similarly follow suit.
“We want to see all other financial institutions being part of this by doing exactly the same, making it a mainstream part of their allocation,” he asserted.
The Guyanese leader went on to revealed that his Government has also secured the support of the Canadian and European Union envoys in Guyana to lend assistance in the area of food security.
“So the appetite is there. The time is right, we must now embrace it,” he stressed.
While positing that he is not worried anymore about financing for the region’s efforts to achieve food security, President Ali, nevertheless, reassured of Guyana’s commitment to financially support Caricom’s implementation of the 25 by 2025 strategy.
“I’ve heard enough, I’ve seen enough, I’ve listened enough to know that we can attract the financing to support the vision… [But] it is how we package what we want, and that is what the Caricom Secretariat and the technical team would be doing – working with every single country to package what we want, in a real way not in a selling way. We can’t package something, and when investors come, they take ten months to facilitate the process of getting off the ground. That is superficial. That is not what we want to achieve,” the President stated.
On this note, Guyanese leader underscored the importance of partnership within the region in order for the food security vision to be fruitful. He contended that if stakeholders across the region work together then Caricom would be successful in meeting the 25 by 2025 target.
“We cannot do this without each other. The region must understand that we are all partners in this. We can’t restrict each other; we can’t be barriers to each other. For it to be successful, we have to facilitate each other. We must have a win-win scenario, and that is what we want to create – build an agricultural system, a food system that is victorious for every single stakeholder involved… We now look forward for the support of all of you in the region, in the private sector, in the field of food production and distribution to work with us,” the Guyanese leader stated.