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CARICOM to address agricultural setback following Hurricane Beryl

July 7, 2024

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC –  Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali says that CARICOM’s Ministerial Task Force on Agriculture has been asked to convene a strategic meeting to address the setback to the sector in the aftermath of Hurricane Beyrl.

In a live broadcast on Sunday, Ali said the impact of Hurricane Beryl on the Caribbean has been disastrous and on some islands completely wiped out the agriculture sector, resulting in a direct setback to the region’s vision of reducing the food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.

To address the situation, he said a “comprehensive” analysis is needed on the impact in the affected countries.

He said during the planned meeting, the Ministerial task force will look at strategies in order to move forward.

Ali, who has responsibility for Agriculture within CARICOM, said the task force will also explore ideas on how the islands can rebuild, make technology available and plant quick-yielding varieties to get some earnings back to farmers.

The task force will also discuss price stability and critical commodities needed so that it can be supplied to the affected islands to avoid further impact at the household level.

“There are some thoughts and some initial ideas that I have already shared with some colleagues and also the Chair of the Ministerial Task Force on Agriculture to see how we can quickly mobilise the necessary stakeholders and resources to address this tremendous setback that our 25 by 2025 action plan is being hit with by Beryl,”  Ali said.

The CARICOM chairman said he also intends to request the intervention of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Commission of Agriculture (ECA) from an early stage to assist farmers and work with the region.

“Because for sure there are some changes in the methodology and changes in the approach to food production that we will have to take into consideration in this phase,” Ali said.

Also important, he said, is the nutritional value when dealing with the consequences of the hurricane.

“The quick fix now is to get more immediate food in…so that we can also have the nutrition food values affected.”

While an assessment is still ongoing, Ali further noted that initial assessments have shown that the agriculture sector has suffered tens of millions of dollars in losses.

The affected islands are Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica and Grenada.

“As lead head on agriculture and food security, I am tremendously concern at the setback hurricane Beryl would have on the 25 by 2025 food security plan.

“The initial assessment is heart-wrenching to our farmers, the governments and to the people of these countries. It is heart-wrenching because of the tremendous investment, policy commitment and budget support that was placed on the agriculture sector since 2020,”  Ali said.

He noted that all of the affected islands were on target of achieving the 25 by 2025 initiative.

“There is a lot of short, medium and long-term issues in the agriculture sector in the Caribbean that must be addressed and be addressed in a comprehensive way.

“In most of the cases, it is the rural farmers and rural communities that have suffered the most and investment required to bring back these communities into productive capacity is going to be enormous,” Ali said.

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