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Remarks by Dr Carla N. Barnett, Secretary-General, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the 17th Caribbean Week of Agriculture – “Accelerating Vision 25 by 2025”, Nassau, The Bahamas, 10 October 2023

  • Honourable Philip E. Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas;
  • Honourable Ministers;
  • Heads of Regional Institutions;
  • International Development Partners;
  • Farmers, children
  • Other Distinguished Guests;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am very pleased to join you for this Opening Ceremony of the                   17th Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA), one of the premier activities on the Region’s agriculture calendar.  This is the first live staging of the CWA in six years and we are understandably enthusiastic about the Week ahead.

On behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), I express appreciation to the Government and People of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, who are so graciously hosting us. I also acknowledge the institutions and members of the various planning committees for your combined collaborative efforts to stage this event. This collaboration augurs well as we work together to transform our agriculture into a sustainable, productive and competitive sector, producing healthy foods for everyone.

This year’s theme, “Accelerating Vision 25 by 2025”, reinforces the Region’s ongoing commitment to food and nutrition security, agricultural development, investment and innovation. Since the launch of the 25 by 2025 Initiative in 2018, there have been several notable programmes and achievements across the Region, even with the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Member States have been working to create an enabling environment for inclusive, resilient agriculture and food sectors. Efforts have been made to increase budget allocations, and support digitization and innovation, climate change adaptation and regional investment, especially in niche high-value commodities.

This Week’s activities have been designed to bring together key regional decision-makers from both the public and private sectors, so that stakeholders in the agriculture and related sectors can continue to forge and advance a common vision. Technical sessions will focus on carefully selected topics, such as animal and plant health, food safety, fisheries, research, innovation, digitization, youth and women involvement, climate change and trade facilitation. They will provide insights to inform strategies and projects to facilitate the growth of agriculture in the Region. We invite your active participation in all the sessions.

The Trade Show is focused on increasing business-to-business engagements, and extra-regional trading opportunities for micro, small and medium, as well as, large agri-businesses and services within the Region.

On Friday, Ministers of Agriculture will address major policy issues, such as increasing agricultural production and trade, agricultural health, and food safety during the Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) – Agriculture.

As a Region, we have been intentional about increasing engagement with vulnerable groups. Of particular significance will be the half-day youth dialogue which will provide a forum for direct engagement with this key demographic, and engender even more solutions for innovation and sustainability in the agricultural sector.

We are working together towards finding solutions to the challenges of transportation, agriculture financing and insurance, which are critical to the development of the sector. Actions are being taken to facilitate intra-regional trade by addressing animal health and food safety, legislation, and administrative practices.  All in all, fundamental groundwork is being laid to fast-track additional successes.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now at the halfway point of our 25% by 2025 Initiative. At this time, we cannot afford to lose sight of our target. We must leverage the agriculture sector to empower farmers and food producers, and especially our women, young people, and rural communities. We must reduce the Region’s growing food import bill, and ensure food and nutrition security for future generations of our Region.

Our expectation is that the engagements from this Week will further advance regional priorities, and emphasise the Region’s vigorous commitment to food and nutrition security.

I wish all stakeholders – producers, buyers, government officials, Regional Institutions, development partners, and farmers, especially young farmers – a very successful Week. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

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