Leading Caribbean agriculturist Dr. Arlington Chesney, Executive director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), has highlighted the opportunities Caricom’s mainland territories such as Suriname, Guyana and Belize offer in the matter of food security. “The region has set itself a target of 25 per cent food and nutrition security by 2015. But we can’t do that as individual countries,” Chesney has said.
His comments came after a partnership arrangement was announced between Guyana and Trinidad for the creation of a ‘Food Security Facility’ (FSF) with hopes of stimulating agricultural and livestock production; reducing dependence on foreign food imports and stimulating, regionally, the drive for food security in the Caribbean Community (Caricom). The announcement was made last week Monday by Trinidad & Tobago’s new finance minister, Larry Howai, while presenting the 2013 national budget.
Caricom, with approximately 16 million inhabitants in its 15 member states, has an annual food import bill of over US $4 billion A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study shows that, with the exception of Guyana, Belize and St Kitts and Nevis in the English-speaking Caribbean, no country has the required landmass to achieve 100 per cent food security. Chesney said he welcomed the Food Facility arrangement. He said it was important to note the landmass limitations of a majority of Caricom countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, and the crucial role Guyana and Suriname with their abundant acreage can play in a collective regional initiative to respond to the challenge of food security.