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Guyana’s President concerned about Hurricane Beryl’s impact on the region’s Agriculture and Aquaculture industries

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by Eulana Weekes

St.Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The President of Guyana Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali expressed concern about the impact on food production, imposed by Hurricane Beryl.

 

Hurricane Beryl completely wiped out the Agriculture and fishing sectors across several islands, leaving some farmers and fishermen concerned about their livelihoods and bringing a setback to CARICOM’s food security agenda, in which lots of investment was made.

 

“I am tremendously concerned at the setback Hurricane Beryl would have on the 25 by 2025 food security plan. The initial assessment is heart-wrenching to our farmers, to the government and to the people of these countries. It is heart-wrenching because of the tremendous investment, tremendous policy commitment and budget support that was placed in the agricultural sector since 2020. Investment in infrastructure, water systems, technology, crop variety, farm support, [and] farm-to-market infrastructure, many of these countries would have lost all of this investment.” President Irfaan Ali during a Facebook live presentation on Sunday, July 07 2024.

 

Over the past few years, Caribbean leaders worked assiduously to reduce the food import bill by 25% by 2025, by maximising food production internally and encouraging residents to consume local produce. President Ali said progress was made in Agriculture and Aquaculture across the hurricane-affected islands, but now the islands are forced to rebuild, some from scratch.

 

“The initial assessment on the impact of Beryl on the agricultural sector- and when I speak about agriculture here, I am speaking about aquaculture, not only shows that we have lost the years of hard work and investment, but the immediate damage to infrastructure and crops and livelihood from the agricultural and fisheries sector is in the tens of millions of dollars.

It is important to note that Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Jamaica, [and] Barbados, were all islands and countries that were on track mostly in achieving the 25 by 2025 targets set by themselves. So not only is the initial investment and cost of damage concerning to me as lead head in agriculture, but it is also the long-term investment cost.”

 

Initial assessments point to a need for the rebuilding of infrastructure and finding resources to recapitalise the farmers and fishers, most of whom are not insured, amongst other short-, medium– and long-term priorities.

Alongside the fisheries and agriculture sectors, Tourism, the main economic driver for the hurricane-affected islands was also impacted, bringing to light the magnitude of the situation and the tremendous impacts upon those economies and the livelihoods of the residents.

 

 

In Barbados, one-third of the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex was destroyed and over 200 vessels were damaged or destroyed.

 

In Jamaica, hundreds of acres of crop production were destroyed, mostly impacting farmers in the rural communities whose livelihoods were dependent upon the sales of produce. St. Lucia too has seen significant impact across the sector.

 

In Carriacou, Petite Martinique, Union Island, Palm Island, Mayreau and Canouan, the Agriculture and Aquaculture sectors were wiped out, just like practically every other sector.  Building back those countries will be an enormous task economically and physically.

 

Meanwhile, Ali requested an urgent meeting of the CARICOM Ministerial Task Force on Agriculture. The meeting is expected to focus on new and resilient agricultural techniques and technology, quick-yielding plant varieties for farmers and price control on products to prevent financial strain on households.

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