Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has used the platform of a major agriculture conference to make a strident call for regional heads to join together to ensure the region’s food security.
She made the call yesterday during the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, as she spoke on the topic: Pursuing CSME and Removing Barriers to Enhancing Agri-Trade Within the Region.
Ms. Mottley told the large gathering that the ongoing crisis with Russia and Ukraine had reinforced the vulnerabilities of the millions of people living in the Caribbean, based on the effect of wheat and other food restrictions in place by some overseas countries which export wheat and its by-products.
The Prime Minister shared that Russia, the Ukraine and India had stopped sending important food and grocery items outside its borders, and warned of more restrictions to follow by governments to safeguard their food supplies in the face of soaring inflation.
She articulated the view that the entire Caribbean region had to be viewed not just in the context of the population in CARICOM of 18 million people, but also the visitors received on an annual basis, whose “responsibility is ours to feed”.
Ms. Mottley affirmed: “We are at that moment in time when it is up to us to stand up to the challenge or to recognise that the consequences of it will indeed be difficult and potentially devastating for our people. While we await the global initiatives to be announced by the UN Secretary General and the global crisis response team he has established on food, energy and financing with the expectation that what the world faces will be more challenging than what we faced in 2008 to 2010. We have a responsibility to take preemptive action in this region to protect our people.”
The Prime Minister and other regional heads also made a case for more regular transportation of goods across the region with the suggestion that a new solution be found to move the cargo.
“In this moment, when maritime transport is at its greatest challenge, we have to recognise that the bridge to resuscitating Caribbean tourism air transport may well be having regional air cargo moving to help offset the investment to move our people,” she emphasised.
Ms. Mottley continued: “We may need to look at different planes and we may need to look at more regular traffic. The regularity of movement may well be the solution for us rather than these large aircrafts that move once or twice a day.”
The three-day event was held under the theme: Investing in Vision 25 by 2025, which represents the goal to lower the region’s US $6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent within the next three years.