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CARICOM’s ministerial taskforce on agriculture to meet following the devastating impact of hurricane Beryl

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – CARICOM’s Ministerial Taskforce on Agriculture will meet early this week to formulate a comprehensive action plan, aimed at rebuilding the region’s agricultural sector, following the devastating hurricane Beryl which affected several Caribbean countries.

During a live broadcast on Sunday, CARICOM’s chair and Guyana’s president, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, highlighted that hurricane Beryl has severely affected the economies, livelihoods, and infrastructure of nation’s regionally.

“The quick fix now is to get more immediate food in… I have asked the chair of the ministerial taskforce to convene his strategic meeting in the new week to include IICA and the Brazilian government to look at how we are going to rebuild, look at some quick yielding variety that we can introduce so that we can get some earning back as quickly as possible to the farmers…Varieties that might be able to withstand greater winds in the future.”

The Guyanese leader emphasised that the immediate utilisation of shade houses and hydroponics would be critical, as these methods can accelerate the production of leafy, high-value vegetables and other crops to supply the markets.

This approach would address the region’s immediate food and nutritional needs, while helping farmers to increase food output and earn an income.

Whilst an initial assessment of the impact is ongoing, president Ali noted that Barbados’ prime minister, Mia Mottley, has been working with other affected leaders to mobilise the region’s technical, human, and financial resources to create a comprehensive analysis of the impact.

There are numerous short, medium, and long-term issues in the region’s agricultural sector that must be addressed comprehensively.

President Ali is deeply concerned about the significant setback hurricane Beryl will have on the region’s 25 by 2025 food security goal and stated that the initial evaluation is heartbreaking for the people, governments, and agricultural sectors of the affected countries.

This, he mentioned, is especially heart-wrenching due to the significant investments, policy commitments, and budget support that have been injected into the agricultural sector since 2020.

Heavy investments were made in infrastructure, water supply systems, technology, crop varieties, farm support, and farm-to-market infrastructure.

Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, and Barbados are countries that were on track in achieving the 25 by 2025 regional food security target.

“Not only is the initial investment and cost of damages is concerning to me as lead-head of agriculture. It is also the long-term investment cost to rebuild the infrastructure and to find resources to recapitalise the farmers… As you know, most of the farmers and fisherfolk are not insured… A lot of the crops damaged are long-term crops,” he highlighted.

For example, most of the beaches in Barbados have been affected, causing a major blow to the island’s main revenue earner which is the tourism sector.

The island’s fisheries sector has been severely damaged, requiring tremendous investments in infrastructure, retooling, and assets for fisherfolk.

The president described the situation as ‘horrific’ in Grenada since the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique have had their permanent and cash crops, as well as livestock, completely destroyed.

Meanwhile, over 80 percent of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ agriculture sector has been impacted, while the rural communities in Jamaica have suffered the most.

“I have already shared with some colleagues and also the chair of the ministerial taskforce of agriculture to see how we can quickly mobilise the necessary stakeholders and resources to address this tremendous setback that our 25 by 2025 action plan is being hit with by Beryl,” he underlined.

The president will be contacting the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and other institutions to assist the farmers and the region.

Guyana sent the first shipment of aid for several hurricane-affected countries last Tuesday.

Guyana delivers relief supplies to Grenada in response to hurricane Beryl

Tarpaulins, chainsaws, generators, batteries, torch lights, safety vests, hygiene items, water purification tablets and collapsible water bottles were among the supplies that were shipped. On Friday, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) received over $1 million in supplies from the Rotary Club of Georgetown to support relief efforts for the affected Caribbean countries.



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