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Suriname President and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chair Chandrikapersad Santokhi has said that the need for a complete transformation and re-alignment of the Region’s food system has never been so urgent.
“Agriculture, in the Region, is at a crossroads,” the CARICOM Chair declared.
” While we recognize the challenges, we must focus on the opportunities,” he told Friday’s opening of the Agri Investment Forum and Expo II at the National Academy of Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
According to the Surinamese leader, this requires the region to press the reset button in several areas that he outlined.
They included agricultural finance, rural infrastructural development, climate-smart agriculture, water management and use, food security, and cross-border investments
“Agriculture, is a major economic pillar for our economies, and has the potential, to build economic resilience, and drive inclusive socio-economic development,” Santokhi told his audience.
And the CARICOM Chair noted that the Caribbean’s agribusiness sector has immense potential, and presents opportunities.
He outlined the opportunities in areas including expansion of intraregional trade and foreign exchange savings.
Santokhi said they will contribute to CARICOM’s agri-food competitiveness.
He noted that the Region’s private sector has a six billion US dollar import bill and a business opportunity as well.
“Never before, has there been such a ready opportunity, for the creation of new agro-industries,” the CARICOM Chair declared.
But he observed that to optimize these opportunities, the region must build partnerships with the wider world, its own regional private sector, and financial institutions.