More integrated approach needed to improve Regional food system – CARICOM Ministerial Task Force Chair

(Photo via FAO)

Improvement in regional food systems requires a more integrated approach and a single shared vision and coordination of efforts towards sustainable change.

This is the outlook of Agriculture Minister of Guyana, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, who chairs the CARICOM Special Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security. The first Meeting of the Task Force will be held on 7 April 2021.

The Thirty-Second Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in February agreed to the establishment of a Special Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security which would work closely with the private sector on an Action Plan to follow-up and monitor implementation of an agri-food system strategy. The Task Force is charged with guiding the Community’s position on shaping a significantly more resilient, wealth-generating, and food secure agri-food system.

Agriculture Minister of Guyana, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha (Photo via Ministry of Agriculture)

On 30 March 2021, Minister Mustapha met representatives of the Food and Agriculture Officer (FAO), the United Nations (UN), the Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), and the World Food Programme (WFP) to discuss the Region’s participation in the UN Food Systems Summit which will be held in September 2021. In partnership with those agencies, the CARICOM Secretariat is coordinating CARICOM’s participation and overall position at the Summit.

Minister Mustapha said the Summit would complement the Task Force’s drive to “recharge and push our efforts onto a higher development trajectory.”

The Minister told the officials that it was his intention as chairman of the Ministerial Task Force, for the partners to work towards the shared vision as outlined in the Region’s Strategy for advancing the CARICOM Agri-Food System.

He pointed out that the CARICOM Agri-Food System Strategy proposes:

  • Allocation of a specific percentage of locally produced agricultural products to be procured through public procurement
  • A commitment of a targeted percentage allocation of public spending to Food and Agriculture Sector
  • Role of Private sector and regional stakeholder for agri-food system investment agenda inclusive of (1) de-risking the regional agri-food system and (2) CARICOM Cross Broader Agri-Business Investment strategy
  • Agriculture disaster risk management
  • Research and development
  • Implementation Plan that outlines 36 broad policy areas to be addressed to achieve commercialisation of the regional food system
  • Selected priority sectors such as poultry, corn/soyabean, rice, beef pork, mutton, coconut, niche vegetables, fruits, and fruit juices, ginger turmeric

“It is our expectation as we work together, we will build on each other’s strengths and experiences. We will work hand-in-hand. We are ready to work with all and we must seize this moment for action to achieve lasting results,” he said.

Guyana holds responsibility for agriculture in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet.

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