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Saturday, January 21, 2006 

CARICOM Agriculture Ministers Meet in Georgetown for Special COTED
by Caricom news release
Posted: Jan 21, 2006 13:23 UTC

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - President of the Republic of Guyana and Lead Head of Government in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet with responsibility for Agriculture, His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, yesterday underscored the importance of the Region’s agriculture industry in reducing the growing food import bill and attaining food security for the Region.

Addressing CARICOM Ministers of Agriculture at the opening of a special meeting of the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Friday 20 January in Georgetown, Guyana, convened at his request, President Jagdeo noted that the meeting was convened to give special attention to agricultural issues, given the current constraints facing the industry.

President Jagdeo pointed out that the flooding now being experienced in parts of Guyana was not an isolated situation, as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have recently suffered similar disasters.

He said this has had a negative impact on agriculture and called for improved management of the water resources and irrigation systems, as well as better risk management to mitigate the effects of flooding and other natural disasters.

President Jagdeo further stated that the Region was facing economic setbacks due to decreasing financial investment in the agriculture industry and a food import bill of over US$3 Billon dollars. He says it is against this backdrop that he plans to urge his colleague Heads of Government at their upcoming 17th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago 9-10 February that greater attention to be given to the Region’s agriculture sector.

This is seen as particularly important and urgent, given the European Union (EU) cut in the price of sugar exports from the Region. As Lead Head of Government with responsibility for Agriculture, President Jagdeo had outlined an Initiative for giving important effect to the Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture (RTP) which was approved by Heads of Government at their Sixteenth Inter-Sessional Meeting in Suriname last year.

The Initiative seeks to strengthen Regional Agriculture and its contribution to the regional economy and lessen the Region’s reliance on imported food. Today’s meeting is being used to advance recommendations outlined in the Jagdeo Initiative, for the development of projects at the national and regional levels and to set the stage for the enhancement of the sustainable growth and development of the Region’s agricultural sector.

The Guyana President expressed optimism in the Agriculture sector’s capacity to become competitive, stating, “ I think we have a good future in this sector.” CARICOM Secretary-General H. E. Edwin Carrington, who welcomed the delegates at the opening of the special meeting of the COTED, acknowledged the importance of agriculture within the sphere of the CARICOM Single Market the launch of which will be officially commemorated on the 30th of January in Kingston, Jamaica.

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