Food sector leaders across Caribbean meet to discuss disaster preparedness, recovery
Education, technology, and insurance were the aspects of resilience food sector leaders agreed are key in preparing for and overcoming future emergencies.
Nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen (WCK), gathered leaders in the food industry from the Caribbean region this week for the panel discussion “Creating Resilient Food Systems in the Caribbean.”
Panelists included Michael Pintard, minister of agriculture and maritime resources in The Bahamas; Positive Nelson, commissioner of agriculture of the US Virgin Islands; and Puerto Rico Agriculture Secretary Ramón “Pirul” González.
During the online event, panelists discussed their islands’ agricultural resilience plans and strategies to increase local food production and distribution in the short and long term. Strategies worthy of note were the promotion and support of small, backyard farmers to take advantage of available land and increase crop production, as well as the use of innovative technologies such as hydroponic and aquaculture systems.
Leaders in all three aligns concurred that to attract younger generations to the food sector, access to land and capital is needed as well as a focus on small and sustainable agriculture.
Post-disaster measures necessary to launch a rapid food sector recovery were also discussed, with all the panelists agreeing that quick insurance payouts for food producers were pivotal in providing early access to recovery capital.
González and the USVI commissioner pointed out the challenges of United States territories being subject to the constraints of federal budgets and laws, The Bahamian Minister, Michael Pintard, reminded his counterparts that “challenges for the territories should not impede the collaboration between Caribbean islands,” while mentioning The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as examples of international cooperation groups where all countries may be represented either as active members, in the directories or observers.
“We need some level of courage from us, the regional leaders,” said Nelson, concurring that a regional Caribbean agricultural conference would be to the benefit of all to facilitate the exchanges of resources, knowledge, and best practices amongst the panels’ islands as well as with other Caribbean islands.