PRESIDENT JAGDEO CALLS FOR MORE INCENTIVES FOR AGRICULTURE
Posted in: Press Releases | 30 May 2009 | Release Ref #: 202/2009 | 1332
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The two-day Public-Private Sector Consultation on agribusiness wrapped up in Georgetown Thursday with an acknowledgement by stakeholders that much more needed to be done to shape agriculture into a more viable sector to advance growth in the Region.
On Thursday evening, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana and Lead Head of Government with responsibility for Agriculture, His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), along with Guyanese Ministers the Honourable Robert Persaud, Minister of Agriculture, and the Honourable Manniram Prashad, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, attended the closing session of the Forum that was organized by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development.
Addressing the participants at the Pegasus Hotel, President Jagdeo lamented the “patent neglect” of agriculture in CARICOM Member States and warned that much of what would happen to agriculture in the next decade would be determined, to a large extent, by the seriousness with which policy-makers treated the sector.
Pointing to the need for governments to provide incentives and budgetary resources to agriculture, the President also encouraged the Region’s Private Sector to take risks to push the sector.
President Jagdeo alluded to the current crises in food and finance and anticipated challenges such as scarce water supply, and pointed out that the Region had the capacity to meet the global demand for food which he predicted would rise.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he told stakeholders, adding that agriculture also had to be made “attractive” to draw youths to the sector.
Earlier, co-chair of the Consultation, Mr. Geoff DaSilva, Chief Executive Officer, Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest) commended the CARICOM Secretariat for taking the initiative on holding such an exercise and encouraged participants to turn the obstacles identified at the sessions into opportunities.
Mr. DaSilva identified the strengthening of the CARICOM Agriculture unit and the integration and coordination of both public and private sectors among the recommendations of the stakeholders at the Consultation. The proposal was for a public-private sector body to be chaired by President Jagdeo and Mr Carrington.
At the Consultation, International Development Partners (IDP) indicated their support and acknowledged that such encounters would define the priority needs for the IDP to consider.
Moving forward, Mr. DaSilva said the CARICOM Secretariat is to assign an officer to work with representatives to put “meat” on the identified proposals. There was a strong sentiment at the Consultation that “we don’t want to keep talking about this, we want to make things happen,” the GoInvest CEO said.
The Consultation was geared at establishing stronger institutional collaboration for Agribusiness Development in the Caribbean. It took stock of ongoing and planned programmes supported by relevant agencies to assess their significance to stakeholders, identified potential synergies and collaboration in the design and/or implementation of the programmes of the agencies. Participation was drawn from a wide cross-section of agriculture sector representatives, agencies and organizations, international development partners, large, small and medium enterprises.
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