The issue of food security is now front and centre for governments in the region who are heavily reliant on food imports to feed their population.
Local farmers have been grappling with excess produce arising from the closure of the tourism market.
But as the country looks ahead to life after COVID-19 and the Agricultural and Fisheries sectors making a greater contribution to gross domestic product, is Jamaica in a position to break into the regional market?
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and CARICOM hosted a webinar on May 7 entitled enabling agricultural investment in the Caribbean for an effective response to post COVID-19 recovery.
Agriculture ministers of the region have been discussing strategies to bolster activity and safeguard supply.
Chair of the CARICOM agriculture sector COVID-19 Response Taskforce Saboto Caesar says there are significant opportunities for investment across the region.
He says the recovery plan involves boosting intra-regional trade.
The Caribbean Private Sector Organization says it has identified seven strategic agri- investment opportunities totaling over 400 million US Dollars.
Poultry meat tops the list – that’s a potential market of over 120 million us dollars. There’s also hatching eggs, corn, rice, meat, vegetables, cassava,and coconut products.
Is it possible for Jamaica to position itself as the breadbasket of the region?
We put the question to the Minister of Industry Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw.
The Majority of the beef that is in our patties now has to be imported because we don’t have enough locally so most definitely it is on my agenda for expansion. – Minister of Industry Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw.
Minister Shaw chairs the Agriculture and Manufacturing Sub Committees of the Economic Recovery Taskforce.
He says its mandate is to carve out opportunities, develop an action plan and in his words ‘get on with the race’.