Mot­t­ley wants re­gion to cut food im­ports

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - News -

Prime Min­is­ter Mia Amor Mot­t­ley has chal­lenged CARI­COM Heads of Gov­ern­ment to for­mu­late an in­ter­re­gional multi-sec­tor pol­icy that would re­duce the US$4 bil­lion food im­port bill by 25 per cent in 2023.

She made that call on Wed­nes­day night at the open­ing cer­e­mony for the 15th Caribbean Week Of Agri­cul­ture at the Lloyd Ersk­ine San­di­ford Cen­tre, Two Mile Hill, St Michael.

Mot­t­ley said the pro­tec­tion of re­gional agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries was of para­mount im­por­tance, es­pe­cially in the wake of the threat that cli­mate change and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters posed to the Caribbean.

She said while tack­ling en­vi­ron­men­tal changes with in­ter­na­tional coun­tries could be ben­e­fi­cial, CARI­COM states should not solely rely on ex­ter­nal ideas to deal with re­gional chal­lenges.

“There needs to be re­search with re­spect to in­ter­na­tional trade pol­icy to al­low us to be able to use food se­cu­rity as one of the pri­mary weapons of de­fence for the pro­tec­tion of our agri­cul­tural sec­tors,” she said.

“Imag­ine if hur­ri­canes Maria and Irma had hit Mi­ami last year. Imag­ine the con­se­quences to the lo­gis­tic sup­ply of food to the Caribbean. You have a na­tional se­cu­rity cri­sis in the first four or five days if sup­plies are cut off . . . .

“I do not ac­cept that it is be­yond the ca­pac­ity of the min­istries of agri­cul­ture, fi­nance, trade and trans­port in the re­gion to at least work our­selves to a re­duc­tion of 25 per cent of our food im­port bill over the five years.”

The Prime Min­is­ter, who was sched­uled to be at a spe­cial meet­ing in Bali, In­done­sia, said she opted to at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony be­cause of the sig­nif­i­cance of the event. She also said the mind­set to­ward agri­cul­ture needed to change.

“Our re­la­tion­ship to agri­cul­ture can­not be that which it was when I was born or based on the plan­ta­tion model . . . . It has to change by be­ing able to at­tract tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions and in­no­va­tion . . . our bright­est and best stu­dents must see a fu­ture in agri­cul­ture as eas­ily as they see a fu­ture on a stage.

(Pic­ture by Len­nox Devon­ish.)

Prime Min­is­ter Mia Amor Mot­t­ley ad­dress­ing the gath­er­ing at the Caribbean Week of Agri­cul­ture.

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