President Ali off to Barbados for Caricom-Cuba Summit
– to deliver remarks at Regional Security Service meeting
President Dr Irfaan Ali has departed Guyana’s shores for the Caribbean Community (Caricom)-Cuba summit in Bridgetown, Barbados, where regional leaders will gather today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
According to a statement from the Office of the President, the Head of State is being accompanied by the Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd; Guyana’s Ambassador to Caricom George Talbot and other officials.
President Ali will be expected to deliver remarks at a meeting of the Regional Security Service (RSS). Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips has meanwhile been sworn in to carry out the functions of President.
The Caricom-Cuba Summit is in its eight iteration. Additionally, it was explained that this December marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Caricom and Cuba.
In a joint statement on the eve of the summit, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley spoke highly of cooperation and collaboration between her country and Cuba, which includes in areas such as the medical field and the sugar industry.
It was only in July that an agreement was signed by President Ali and Prime Minister Mottley, to further facilitate relations between Guyana and Barbados, and collaboration in a number of areas, including agriculture and food security.
The agreement, called the Saint Barnabas Accord, was signed on the sidelines of the 43rd Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government meeting, and it paves the way for the two countries to further dialogue in nine specific areas. It is an updated agreement since a previous Saint Barnabas Accord was signed between the two leaders.
“Among those areas are agriculture, aquaculture and food security. Other areas captured in the agreement are mining and quarrying; tourism and international transport; trade and business development; energy; manufacturing; education, technical and vocational training, including capacity building; cooperation in security and bilateral integration measures,” the Office of the President had announced.
Meanwhile, information released from the Barbados Government Information Service revealed detailed information on the areas of cooperation in the agriculture sector for which the accord will provide.
The St Barnabas Accord states that Barbados and Guyana have agreed to twin the work programmes of their respective Agriculture Ministries, which also entails an exchange of officials from each other’s Ministries.
It was announced that a Joint Working Group on Food and Nutritional Security, comprising Ministries responsible for agriculture and health; State-owned agricultural and marketing corporations; and private sector representatives, will also be created.
The accord also caters for “export from Guyana to Barbados of beef, corn and soya, coconut and coconut products, fruits and vegetables, poultry and poultry products, and other products as may be determined; export from Guyana to Barbados of shade houses; export from Barbados to Guyana of one thousand (1000) artificially inseminated black belly sheep in tranches.”
It also states that a company will be established to manage the black belly sheep production, and a youth programme will be created that includes differently-abled persons to work on a rotational basis on a fifty (50) acre farm in Guyana.
President Ali had previously announced that several acres of Guyana’s land would be allocated to be utilised by Barbadian farmers. According to the accord, Guyana will be leasing land to Barbados at concessional prices “for the purpose of joint partnership in animal husbandry and poultry-rearing (including poultry feed production); and for the production of flowers, food crops inclusive of breadfruit, cassava, plantains, pineapple, bananas, passion fruit, oranges and coconuts.”
A community will also be identified in Guyana to partner with Barbados farmers for the large-scale cultivation of black belly sheep, which have already arrived in Guyana. Food terminals with operational plant and facilities would also be established in both countries for local use and for export, while a trade hub would also be developed in Barbados.
The two countries will also be working closely together on the “Vision 25 by 2025” initiative that seeks to increase food security and slash the food import bill of the Region by 25 per cent in the next three years.