Agri-Investment Forum an opportunity for effective partnership to reduce food import bill – CARICOM ASG

Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, the Hon Zulficar Mustapha (c) checks on preparatory works ahead of the CARICOM Agri-Investment Forum and Expo (Photo via DPI)

CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Joseph Cox, said the upcoming CARICOM Agri-Investment Forum and Expo is a good opportunity for effective partnership between governments and the private sector, with support from the CARICOM Secretariat to reduce the US$6B food import bill. The Government of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat are holding the event.

At a press conference ahead of the major three-day event which opens in Georgetown, Guyana, on 19 May 2022, the Assistant Secretary-General with responsibility for Economic Integration, Innovation and Development, said that there is appetite now for increasing the investments in the agriculture sector.

“It is full time we capitalise on the opportunities that we have,” he told representatives of the media at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, were the Forum and Expo will be held. He highlighted some of the opportunities as those related to primary production, animal and animal products and food processing.

“We have to now move up the value chain,” he said adding that the event represented a “first step along the continuum of progress.”

President of Guyana, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, will deliver the feature address at the opening of the Forum on Thursday at 10 am. Visiting Heads of Government and CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett will also speak at the event.

Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, and Chair of the Ministerial Task Force on Food Production and Food Security, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha provided details on the preparations so far, indicating that six CARICOM Heads of Government and nine Ministers of Agriculture will attend; more than 13 donor agencies have indicated they will participate; and more than 550 delegates have registered.

The event will feature a number of key investment-related activities inclusive of a Country-specific Investment Platform that will see investors presenting bankable projects for investment consideration in specific CARICOM Member States.

Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, the Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha (c) at the press conference on Monday. With the Minister are (second from left) CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Joseph Cox, Director, Sectoral Programmes, CARICOM Secretariat, Amb. David Prendergast (right) and Programme Manager, Agricultural and Agro-industrial Development, Mr. Shaun Baugh (second from right)

Additionally, there will be a Donor Roundtable Discussion where development financing agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors will focus on finding and supporting novel ideas and solutions within the context of the ‘25 by 2025 programme’. There will also be focus on Youth and Gender.

He said with the food import bill at US$6B, it is extremely vital to have increased investment in agriculture and food production to achieve the 25 percent reduction in food imports by 2025.

Listen to the press conference:

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