During the recently held Caribbean Agri-Food Investors Conference, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha underscored the importance of investments in the regional agriculture system. This, he said, would further ensure food security and promote wealth generation for agriculture operators.
Minister Mustapha, while delivering remarks at the virtual conference also said that the desired transformation of the Regional Agri-Food System towards full commercialization requires the active participation of the regional and international investors in agribusinesses that are backed by enabling environments provided by the policymakers.
“As the Region seeks to reduce its exposure to food price inflation among a slew of other negative externalities, and therefore reducing its high dependency on extra-regional imports and achieving the 25% by 2025 goal, it is crucial that all key agri-food players operate in unison,” the minister said.
In light of the Caribbean’s financial need, which as far back as 2020 was more than US$10 billion, he said the region is open to fostering partnerships with both regional and international financial institutions and investors to address the concern of food security and the threat of climate change. From an investment perspective, he said too that the CARICOM Region’s huge food import bill can be seen as a unique opportunity for stimulating production in the Region and ramping up cross-border investments in targeted agricultural enterprises.
The Minister further stated that for far too long, the region’s food security has been at the mercy of what happens outside the region. He also said that in recent years countries in the region have been facing many challenges which have all been contributing factors to food insecurity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as extreme climatic events, have all been contributing factors to food insecurity in the region, and the CARICOM Region would have felt the impact as well of the disruptions in the global food supply chains,” he added.
Minister Mustapha explained the Caribbean Private Sector Organization (CPSO) has been receiving support from CARICOM’s Special Ministerial Taskforce on Food Security as it pursues its efforts to regional investments and intra-regional trade.
While stating that Guyana and the rest of the region will continue to welcome mutually beneficial investments in the agriculture sector, Minister Mustapha said that Guyana and the CARICOM region will continue to express their commitment to providing a business environment that is favorable to investment sighting CARICOM’s capability of becoming a leading food-producing Region.