As Belize continues to see a downturn in new infections of COVID-19, the region as a whole remains concerned about food security. Challenges associated with this issue have worsened due to the pandemic, but it was already in a critical state because the region’s farmers face setbacks due to climate change. CARICOM Secretary-General Doctor Barnett explained that the best way to face these challenges is to implement a multidimensional approach, which includes focusing on sustainable agriculture and bringing down the massive food import bill.
Dr.Carla Barnett, CARICOM Secretariat: “The work being done which is being led by Government of Guyana is multifaceted. It’s about investing in agriculture in a sustainable way which means the intention is to treat with issues of irrigation, of pesticide use, of all of those things that have implications for the environment. It’s also to treat with the crops that we need that we do well. It’s also to treat with the issue of transportation so in as much as we are making food production – and we have already made food production the highest priority, we’ve also made transportation of goods across the region so there is active work underway in terms of how we can address the logistics of that as you put it so the discussion of whether or not we can encourage investment in fast ferry service for example that can move people and commodities from country to country and so all of those things are already on the agenda and are getting priority attention and in fact I expect that when we meet in Belize in end of February/March next year it will be to take stock of how far we have already come and what else there needs to be done. One of the interesting parts of what we’re doing here is the involvement of the private sector because the government makes rules but private sector produces and therefore the involvement of the private sector is really important and so we’re expecting to see what proposals they will come with very soon that would inform how they would want to proceed in terms of investing additionally in production of food in particular.”
The region’s import bill is estimated at five billion U.S. dollars.