BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will finance consultancy services for a study to explore options for establishing a Maritime Cargo Service between Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago primarily for the movement of agricultural products.
The initiative is part of the CDB’s pledge to improve food security within the Caribbean, and to promote regional cooperation. It also demonstrates the bank’s support for the imperative, announced last year by CARICOM heads of government, to achieve a 25 percent reduction in the region’s food import bill by 2025. The heads identified the lack of adequate regional transportation as a major obstacle to the movement of agricultural products within the region and major contributor to food insecurity.
“Policymakers in CARICOM have established that intra-regional agricultural trade can balance food deficits and surpluses, contribute to price stability, and increase the diversity of food supply, all of which can achieve greater food and nutrition security for the Caribbean,” CDB’s director of projects, Daniel Best explained.
He added, “CDB is aware that improving intra-regional trade in agriculture will require interventions across the ecosystem, however, the provision of efficient and sustainable transportation to move agricultural goods will go a far way in achieving 25 by 25.”
The Project will explore options for addressing a range of factors affecting the conveyance of agricultural products by sea including management and operational systems, onshore facilities, food safety provisions, and customs and plant quarantine operations. The main objective of the initiative is to identify opportunities for urgent improvement in maritime transportation capacity, recommend transportation modalities and provide solutions which utilise existing shipping assets.
A technical working group will be established to provide oversight of the study. The body will include representatives from governments of the participating countries, the CARICOM Secretariat, the CARICOM private sector organization, and the CDB.