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CARICOM’s food security drive receives USD1.6M boost from New Zealand

The Caribbean Community’s goal to reduce food imported to the Region by 25 percent by 2025, has received a boost from the government of New Zealand to the tune of USD1.6M, targeting women and youth in agriculture.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett, and the new Plenipotentiary Representative of New Zealand to CARICOM, Her Excellency Linda Charlotte Te Puni, signed a Grant Funding Agreement for the project on Wednesday 28 February at the Guyana Marriot in Georgetown, on the margins of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.

The regional food security project titled: CARICOM BOOST: Women and Youth in Agriculture is part of New Zealand’s commitment to further deepen development cooperation with CARICOM and seeks to enhance sustainable production, climate change resilience and profitability of 47 CARICOM women and youth farmer groups in ten (10) Member States. It is expected to see the use of protected structures and appropriate cold storage unit technologies in women and youth-led agriculture production. The general aim of the project is to promote climate smart agriculture through sustainable agriculture production.

Expressing gratitude on behalf of CARICOM, Secretary-General Barnett noted that the project   reflects a collaborative approach that will impact positively on the Region’s food security system and benefit the most vulnerable.

New Zealand, according to the new Plenipotentiary Representative, can provide additional support in areas such as food security, renewable energy, transportation and regional connectivity, disaster risk reduction, management of sargassum invasive species, and facilitating closer collaboration between the Community and the Pacific Island Forum. Additionally, the Manaaki New Zealand Scholarship Programme provides opportunities for related knowledge expansion and skills development for Caribbean nationals.

The grant funding follows a new Cooperation agreement between CARICOM and New Zealand, signed in June 2023. It also comes in the wake of the recent accreditation of Ambassador Te Puni as the Plenipotentiary Representative of New Zealand to CARICOM in early February. At that time, the Ambassador lauded the “valuable role” CARICOM plays in supporting regional economic development and signaled her country’s “long-term” commitment to the Community.

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