CELAC Ministers of Agriculture Meeting in Guyana Hailed A Success

Ministers of Agriculture across member states of  the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC were present at the anticipated CELAC Ministers of Agriculture Meeting in Georgetown, Guyana on Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.  The hybrid meeting saw tremendous in-person representation, while other member states joined the meeting via a virtual platform.  The opening ceremony saw CELAC, Pro Tempore President, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guyana co-chairing the event.

The goal of the CELAC Ministers of Agriculture Meeting was geared at addressing the Food Security and Nutrition Plan while tackling the establishment of a Food Security and Nutrition Centre.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry & Labour of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hon. Saboto Caesar thanked the government and people of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana for co-hosting the high level meeting, and the hospitality extended to all delegates.  The Agriculture Minister pointed out four fundamental pillars for growth and development, inclusive of a clear expression of political will.  Minister Caesar said gathering in Georgetown is a clear expression that policy makers are willing and ready to create the needed changes in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Agriculture Minister added that mobilisation of the factors of production is essential but most importantly implementation.  Minister Caesar stressed that “it is time for action,” and emphasised that  St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the coming months will continue to exhibit the leadership necessary to ensure that the fundamentals of the plan are addressed.  Caesar reiterated that CELAC is alive and well.

President of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, congratulated CELAC Pro Tempore Presidency, St. Vincent and the Grenadines for exhibiting strong leadership and noted that “CELAC binds us together as a region.”  The Guyanese president underscored that the Health and Education sectors must understand their roles in  attaining Food Security and Nutrition for everyone, and stressed that diet and nutrition are key elements to healthy living and should  be tackled at an early age ‘using children as agents of change,’ as they become ‘custodians of good eating habits.’

Expressing the importance of poverty reduction strategies and reducing inequality, President Ali noted that these issues should also be a part of the conversation in dealing with  issues of Food security and Nutrition.

Additionally, President Ali said technology plays a pivotal role and outlined the importance of a technological support system within the region.  The Guyanese President highlighted that there has been a major shift in recent years as “Agriculture has been able to occupy central discussion points.”

Minister of Agriculture, Guyana – Zulfikar Mustapha stated that CELAC provides a “useful opportunity to update the CELAC plan for Food Security and Nutrition in line with the current context even as it allows for the national commitment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) in alleviating hunger.”

The Agriculture Minister of Guyana used to opportunity to shed light on one of CARICOM’s initiatives which aims at the transformation of Agriculture Food Systems, through building resilience against climate change with the ultimate goal of attaining goals of sustainable  production food systems through a transformative process with the intention of  reducing imported food by 25% by 2025.

The Guyana Agriculture Minister noted that “as we embark on the goal of regional  Food Security we must be cognisant of the present challenges that confront our nations Agricultural sector,” and added that “the Caribbean and Latin American region are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change which poses a significant threat to our agricultural productivity and the well-being of our communities.”

Alluding to the impact of food systems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine conflict, the Guyanese MP  pointed out  ‘amidst these challenges lies tremendous opportunities by coming together in our collective wisdom and leveraging our shared resources’ to begin the transformative process  to  the Agriculture food system.