The CARICOM Agri-Investment Forum and Expo will formally open in Georgetown, Guyana on Thursday, 19 May 2022.
President of Guyana, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who holds responsibility for agriculture in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet will open the three-day event at the National Cultural Centre at 10am. Seven other Heads of Government of CARICOM will attend the Forum and will deliver remarks at the opening, as will CARICOM Secretary-General, Dr. Carla Barnett.
Hosted by the Government of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat, the event is aimed at galvanising investment in regional agriculture to reduce the increasing food import bill which currently is estimated at US$6B; boosting food systems; and ensuring food security.
The primary goal of the event is reflected in its theme ‘Investing in Vision 25 by 2025’ which references the Community’s goal to reduce the food import bill by 25 per cent in another three years. The Forum is being held as global food insecurity rises; as there are disruptions in the global supply chains; and in recognition of the fact that the Region has immense opportunities in the agriculture sector. Strategies to achieve the goal of reducing the food import bill and achieving food security must be grounded in a framework that involved the Community, the private sector and international donor partners, and buttressed by multilateral support, particularly in the areas of policy intervention, institutional strengthening, investment, and sector financing.
A roundtable discussion with development partners will be held on Thursday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre after the opening where development financing agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors will focus on finding and supporting novel ideas and solutions within the context of the 25 by 2025 programme. Mr. Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary-General, Economic Integration, Innovation and Development, will moderate the discussion. More than 13 donor agencies have indicated they will attend.
On Friday, 20 May, the focus will be on country-specific investments.
In the afternoon, Vice President of Guyana, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, will deliver a keynote address on the key binding constraints to agricultural growth.
On Friday as well, there will be sessions devoted to investing in:
- Primary Production with a focus on exploring commercial wheat production; advanced water and environmental technologies in Guyana to support CARICOM Food security; research implications for commercialising cocoa and coffee; and developing the Region’s coconut industry
- Agro-processing and Marketing
- Logistics and Transportation
Heads of Government and their delegations will hold discussions with investors on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday, there will be Business to Business engagements all day as well as sessions on Sustainable Livestock and Silvopastoral Systems In Latin America and the Caribbean; Topco Integrated Dairy Farm Project; and a forum on Gender and Agri-business in the Caribbean.
Youth across the Region who are interested in and are pursuing agriculture, agri-preneurship and agri-technology, among other areas in the sector, will have the opportunity to interact with policymakers at a Youth Dialogue on Saturday as well, from 10am-12:30pm. First Lady of Guyana, Her Excellency Arya Ali and CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett will make presentations at the Dialogue. That session will be held in-person as well as virtually and will be shared live on CARICOM’s Facebook, YouTube, Twitter platforms and on CARICOM Today.
President Ali will open the exposition at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Thursday. Members of the public will have the opportunity to view the exhibits from 1pm on Thursday. It will be open to the public from 10 am to 7pm on the remaining two days of the event. Admission to the exposition is free.