CDB Supporting Regional Food Security Thrust and Agri-Trade in Guyana
The Caribbean is one of the major food importers paying close to USD 6 billion for 80% of its food imports. While there is latent capacity within the agriculture sector, the region’s farmers are constrained by several factors including the absence of clear guidelines and protocols for the movement of plant and animal products. This gap affects everyone involved in intra-regional agri-food trade from the small community farmers to traders to retailers by limiting their ability to capitalise on trade opportunities within the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). Consumers are also negatively affected as their access to nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables produced within the region is also curtailed. Connectivity, cooperation and integration are therefore key in reducing not only the massive food import bill but also in reducing the cost of produce and manufacturing inputs.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is supporting agriculture and rural development, and business competitiveness with two new projects in Guyana targeting national and regional food security. The Strengthening Surveillance Programmes for Bovine Tuberculosis and Bovine Brucellosis in Guyana and the Development of a Food Products Traceability System for Pineapples and Leafy Greens in Guyana projects are tools with which the Bank is assisting Guyana, the region’s food basket, to improve not only productivity and market linkages but also aspects of CARICOM’s 25 by 2025 initiative.
According to Lisa Harding the Bank’s Acting Head of the Private Sector Division, “We’re committed to supporting all our Borrowing Member Countries with instilling good agricultural practices and compliance procedures among stakeholders of the agri-food supply chain, and the development of regional public goods to strengthen agriculture health and food safety and increase intra-regional trade.”
CDB’s work in the Caribbean also emphasizes agri-business as a critical area for investment. Through collaborations with development partners, agriculture stakeholders inclusive of farmers are being empowered to adopt cutting edge technology to enhance production. Beyond human capital development, CDB is also pursuing cluster and value chain development focused on priority commodities and offering financing to small farmers and Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). The Bank recently partnered with CARDI on a sweet potato, value chain project and has supported several initiatives for farmers focused on climate resilient agriculture with financing from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office. Initiatives in trade through the ongoing EPA & CSME Standby Facility financed by the European Union are addressing challenges related to trade barriers, standards and certification in 14 countries. In addition, the Bank is supporting projects to improve transportation, logistics, road and drainage infrastructure in response to climate change which has had significant impacts on the sector.
At the national level, Guyana, one of the largest producers of agricultural products in the region, and whose President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has been championing efforts to bolster agri-food trade, will receive the added benefit of two new initiatives to contribute to the Cooperative Republic’s and CARICOM’s longer-term food security objectives. Commenting on the project Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, recently stated that these projects address critical areas needed for a reliable agri-food system.