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|Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, has called on the private sector to get more involved in the distribution of local food production across the Caribbean region.
The prime minister appealed to the private sector to “not be resistant to these developments and these initiatives, but to get on board and be the distributor of the local produce rather than be the commission agent of imported produce.”
Caribbean Heads of Government have set the goal by 2025 to reduce its Food Import Bill by 25 percent. The Region’s Bill is presently estimated to be somewhere in the vicinity of US$8-10 Billion. Some believe the figure is higher.
Rowley made the appeal during his feature address at the CARICOM Agri-Investment Forum & Expo II which was hosted by Trinidad and Tobago at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port of Spain on Friday.
The Agri-Investment Forum & Expo II, is being held under the theme “Transforming Agriculture through Innovation and Investment” In delivery remarks at the Opening Rowley warned that the model of depending solely on imported food items locally and regionally has to be replaced.
According to the Prime Minister “We are required to replace our supply from outside the region. To do that would mean those who are engaged comfortably and historically in supplying us from outside of the region could face new conditions. The new conditions would be competition from what we are producing locally.”
He made an appeal to fellow CARICOM leaders to “keep trying to become self-sufficient in food if we are to protect ourselves from the promise of the harsher months and years ahead” forewarning that “the best opportunity we have to commit ourselves to solving a problem that is looming large and looming dangerously.”