St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), has committed to reducing its food import bill by 25% by 2025 as part of a joint CARICOM initiative. CARICOM member states, recognising the need to increase international and regional trade have emphasised the task to reduce the region’s food import bill. The commitment was given at the 33rd Inter-Sessional meeting of the Conference of CARICOM, Heads of Government that was held this week in Belize. SVG was represented by deputy prime minister, Montgomery Daniel; Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar and Allan Alexander, Ambassador of SVG to the OECS and CARICOM.
During the 2022 budget session in Parliament, the minister of agriculture outlined that the six pillars for the advancement of food production in St. Vincent and the Grenadines were dependent on the nation’s ability to develop industries around the following areas: Reduction of the food import bill; Establishment of the Windward Islands food production corridor; Modern Medicinal Wellness Industry; Livestock; Fisheries; and Conservation.
Prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, meanwhile noted at the CARICOM meeting that, “No country cannot be considered great if it cannot feed itself”.
The agricultural sector experienced a significant hit as a result of the explosive eruptions of La Soufriere. However, figures on the export of food in January reflect an increase over the same period in 2021.
Minister Caesar noted that SVG would be increasing its production efforts this year to both satisfy the national food consumption needs and increase exports regionally and extra-regionally. He also pledged that St Vincent and the Grenadines would be engaging national stakeholders in order to secure this vision.
The regional food security task force is headed by the President of the Republic of Guyana, Irfaan Ali.
President Ali presented an assessment of each country’s agricultural sector, illustrating how the production of crops and other produce can be increased to meet regional demands. This increased production is expected to reduce the amount of food imported.