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Food and Agriculture Organisation ready to support Guyana’s agri proposal to CARICOM

Last Updated on Monday, 4 October 2021, 14:43 by Denis Chabrol

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Monday said it was ready to support Guyana’s agriculture proposal for the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The announcement was made by FAO’s Assistant Director General, Julio Antonio Berdegué in his address to the opening of Caribbean Week of Agriculture 2021.

Recalling President Irfaan Ali’s proposal on agricultural diversification and food security, to colleague regional leaders in February 2021, the FAO official said that document contains “concrete and very practical” policies. “We agree with every single point of that agenda and we’re willing to organise our work in the CARICOM countries in support of this agenda,” he said.

The FAO official appealed to CARICOM member states to scrap individual agendas and go under the regional umbrella. “FAO is ready to do that,” he said, adding that the agenda has been defined under Guyana’s leadership.

Guyana is responsible for agriculture in the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet.

In his address to the CWA opening ceremony, President Ali bemoaned the fact that a number of CARICOM member states were merely giving lip service to the need for a reduction in the regional food bill, now estimated at about US$5 billion annually. He cited the need to dismantle non-tariff barriers such as laws, regulations and procedures to the regional trade in agricultural produce and products. “Within the Caribbean Community, Guyana will aggressively press for the dismantling of barriers that restrain intra-regional agriculture trade. We are going to be bullish on this issue. I know that there are vested interests who wish to retain these barriers but the choice facing us is clear. If there is to be greater regional food security, these barriers have to be dismantled,” he said.

For instance, Trinidad and Tobago’s laws that date back to the 1930s prohibit the entry of honey from other countries, even if it is to transit to third countries. Years ago, a quantity of Guyanese honey had been seized by Trinidad and Tobago and the freight company had been fined.

The President noted that a mechanism to resolve sanitary and phytosanitary dispute resolution mechanism is beig refined by CARICOM.