Press release 166/2008
(09 June 2008)

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Greater awareness by investors of the opportunities in the agriculture sector, and the ability of investors and entrepreneurs to interact face to face have been hailed as two of the important outcomes of the CARICOM Agriculture Investment Forum.

The two-day Forum wrapped up Saturday afternoon at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) with a press conference hosted by the Hon. Robert Persaud, Minister of Agriculture of Guyana, Mr. James Moss-Solomon, Head of the Forum Task Force, and Ms. Desiree Field-Ridley, Advisor, Single Market and Sectoral Programmes, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

Some 150 persons including two Heads of Government - H.E. Bharrat Jagdeo, Lead of Government with responsibility for Agriculture in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet, and Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ministers of Government of CARICOM, investors, multilateral financial institutions and commercial bankers and other officials participated in the Forum.

Twenty-five projects ranging from food production to ethanol production were presented to investors.

Hailing the historic meeting a success, Minister Persaud said that for some stakeholders, the Forum was “eye-opening”, particularly when they considered the number of viable opportunities that were available in regional agriculture.

The success of the Forum suggested that it be held more frequently, he said. Mr. Moss-Solomon had earlier suggested that the Forum may morph into an annual event.

On Saturday, bankers and financiers pointed out that government guarantees, crop Insurance, export credit and tax and other concessions, and the removal of cross border barriers to trade in agriculture were factors they considered important when making investments in agriculture.

Adequate infrastructure and research were also factors that financiers said were important in alleviating the challenges associated with funding projects in the sector.

In an open interactive morning session to deal with available financing for agri-business projects, the multilateral financial agencies as well as commercial banks placed on the table the steps they were taking towards boosting the sector, their considerations and the challenges they faced.

The farmers, entrepreneurs, investors, bankers and other participants later considered the finer details of investment in the sector during cluster sessions.

Ms Field-Ridley said that meetings with regional agencies are being planned as a follow-up to the Forum.

Investment in agriculture was one of nine key binding constraints identified under the Jagdeo Initiative. The Jagdeo Initiative `Strengthening Agriculture for Sustainable Development’ is a strategy to alleviate some of the binding constraints to the development of the sector and to create the enabling environment which will encourage a resurgence of investment in agriculture thus facilitating the transformation process.

Creating contacts among the major stakeholders in the regional agriculture sector was the key expectation from the two-day Investment Forum that is themed `Investing in our future: Agri Business is Good Businsess’.

Several local and regional entities engaged in the agriculture sector exhibited their products on the ground floor of the Conference Centre.


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