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“It is the right time for our region to invest in our agro-productive sector,” CARICOM Chair John Briceno tells participants at Agri-Investment Forum and Expo in Guyana

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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2022. 9:59 am CST.

By Hugh O’Brien: Belize’s Prime Minister (PM) and current Chair of CARICOM, John Briceno, told participants at the Agri-Investment Forum and Expo currently underway in Guyana that he is convinced “it is the right time for our region to invest in our agro-productive sector and the right time to start establishing strategic partnerships, to realize the tremendous opportunities for growth.”

Briceno made the remarks via a recording that was broadcast live at the launch of the Forum and Expo which Briceno said held special significance for the Community as it addressed the priority that was attached to ensuring food and nutrition security for CARICOM’s citizens.

The CARICOM Chair added “As Heads, we are convinced that President Ali’s plans for agricultural development in the region are realistic and more so, they are imperative if we are to achieve food security for our CARICOM region.”

Briceno said deliberate and concerted action was necessary to achieve the 25 by 25 goal, meaning that the CARICOM region is aiming for a 25% reduction in its dependency on food imports by 2025. The global scenario, said Briceno, reinforced the need for regional action and CARICOM governments were committed to grow the agriculture sector and to build resilience. Clearly Belize is well poised to achieve this goal and to contribute to regional resiliency. However, Briceno stressed that not only was investment necessary but avenues and strategies to get women and youth more engaged are critical.

“CARICOM Heads of Government are cognisant of the inter-dependence of the relationship between the public sector and the private sector, and how, in conjunction, these different parts can work together to achieve an outcome that is beneficial to our most important asset: the people of the Caribbean,” PM Briceno said.

“We must appreciate the fact that we have dedicated CARICOM farmers and agro-processors who are knowledgeable enough and skilled enough to take advantage of the many opportunities that currently exist in our region, to attain food security and enhance economic activity,” said the Prime Minister, who himself is a farmer.

On Thursday after delivering his speech and visiting some of the booths, an upbeat Briceno took to social media saying “We can feed our own region. We can develop our economies by supporting the investment of private sector in agriculture and agri- business. We can become more self reliant. The imperative of reducing our food trade import imbalance is completely realistic and achievable… if we remain focused and strengthen the cooperation across our borders.”

Opening ceremonies for Agri-Investment Forum and Expo was held at 10:00 am on Thursday, May 19; the Forum and Expo concludes on Saturday, May 21.

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