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Caribbean lags behind in agriculture investment

by Reshma Ragoonath, Cayman27, 27 Oct 2016

October 27, 2016

Cayman is hosting the annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture, but with 90 percent of our food imported, we, like all countries in the region lag behind in sustainable food production. This is something international and regional experts say needs to change.

 

Jethro Greene, Chief Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Farmers Network says regional governments need to step up to the plate and deliver on their commitment to agriculture.

"Agriculture is actually declining in most of the Caribbean and what is required is for government to stop talking and acting," Mr Greene says.
This is a point Juan M Cheaz, senior programme coordinator at the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation shares. He says it not only impacts local needs, but those of the tourism industry as well.

"Goods and services that this industry is needing currently is imported, to a large extent is imported, and that is not helping the critical situation of the food import bill in the Caribbean which rounds around five billion,"Mr Cheaz says.

Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque says agriculture and regional food security remains a high priority, but it takes a concerted effort from all to address it.

"We will never be totally self-sufficient in food products. But we can certainly increase the amount of food that we produce in our region and trade among ourselves. It does not have to be that all member states produce the same things," Mr LaRocque says.

For his part Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin says Cayman can achieve self-sufficiency with some products over time. He adds that public support for local produce is growing.

"Increasingly locals, residents and the restaurants are prepared to pay premium prices for fresh produce which has been a huge stimulant really to agriculture," Mr McLaughlin says.

Cayman is host to three hundred and twenty delegates for the annual Caribbean Week of Agriculture which concludes tomorrow at the Westin and the Chamber of Commerce hosted a trade show at the Arc at Camana Bay showcasing local and regional businesses.