Caricom leaders have endorsed and encouraged participation in an Agri-Investment Forum to be held in T&T from August 19-21.
This was indicated in Caricom’s communique at the end of the 43rd Caricom summit in Suriname on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Foreign Affairs Minister Amery Browne attended the summit.
Rowley also spoke about the meeting at Thursday's post-Cabinet media briefing.
Guyana’s Director of Trade, Investment and Agriculture Ganga Singh said the upcoming forum is a follow-up to the Agri-Investment Forum which Guyana held in May.
Rowley attended that event.
Guyana holds the lead in Caricom on regional food security—a priority agenda item at the recent 43rd Caricom summit.
Singh noted consistent follow-up and co-operation on the Guyana forum initiative.
He cited the recent visit to Guyana of T&T Ministers in Agriculture Nigel de Freitas and Avinash Singh, Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings and other T&T officials.
Singh added: “This upcoming Agri Investment forum in T&T will further expand the regional food security thrust in line with Guyana and Caricom’s theme of reducing food imports by 25 per cent by 2025.”
The Guyana forum identified areas for priority action: Food Insecurity, Regional Transportation, Trade Barriers and Women and Youth in Agriculture. A Draft Terms of Reference (TOR) was also developed for the establishment of a Regional Youth in Agriculture Advisory Mechanism.
This will assist in ensuring youth participation and inclusion in the 25 by 2025 food security target.
At the recent Caricom summit, leaders noted that a majority of member states have developed and submitted to the Ministerial Task Force (MTF) on Food Production and Food Security, their national targets. Member States are requested to report monthly.
The MTF has identified 19 potential investment opportunities for displacing extra-regional agri-food imports among member states.
Leaders asked Caricom’s private sector organisation to accelerate the implementation of its agricultural investment projects.
At the Caricom Summit, leaders considered the region’s need for a significantly enhanced transportation system that can bolster food security and deepen regional integration. Rowley had suggested transport be examined when he attended the Guyana Agri-Investment Forum.
Barbados’s Prime Minister Mia Motley presented an update on advanced discussions with the United Arab Emirates, regarding support for both a traditional ferry and fast ferry service for the region. A related proposal from the capital, Abu Dhabi, is being awaited.
Leaders requested that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) commence the proposed roadmap study on the factors needed for successfully establishing a fast ferry service for transportation of agricultural produce—with an initial focus on trade between Guyana, T&T, Grenada and Barbados.
A working group to provide oversight of the project includes representatives from the governments of T&T, Barbados, Grenada and Guyana.
After a briefing on the security situation in the Community from the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, leaders agreed to accept its recommendations and to convene a meeting to address crime and violence as a “public health” issue at the earliest opportunity.
Leaders agreed to improve sharing of gun crime intelligence with the regional gun crime unit and to strengthen the co-operation in sharing of intelligence among member states’ law enforcement personnel.
They agreed to increase focus and investment in energy security, by utilising and harnessing hydrocarbon resources in the region towards reducing dependency on external resources and supplying the growing global needs arising out of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
They also agreed to pursue energy diversification and security through making use of significant assets in the region, with immediate existing capacity in LNG and fertiliser for agriculture.
They further agreed to develop the renewable energy sector through building infrastructure to meet regional power generation needs.
In the context of the bilateral relationship with the United States, they agreed to urge for the removal of the sanctions on Venezuela to allow for countries in the region to benefit from the PetroCaribe initiative and for progress on the exploitation of cross-border natural gas fields between T&T and Venezuela.