Experts at the University of the West Indies are urging Caribbean countries to invest more in ensuring regional food security. Putting the price tag for importing food at US $6 billion, Dr Wayne Ganpat, dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture (FFA) at UWI, St Augustine, said covid19 has dealt a blow to the economy of Caribbean countries dependent on tourism and oil. International travel has come to a standstill and oil prices have been experiencing a free-fall in the face of decreasing demand.
Ganpat warns the region to look beyond the surface of economic loss, and he questions the Caribbean’s current and future ability to maintain a US$6 billion food import bill.
The question came as Ganpat was presenting during an online seminar hosted by the faculty last week. The seminar explored the effects of covid19 on regional food and nutrition security. He said the region’s dependency on the US, China and Europe for more than 80 per cent of its food supply must change as covid19 threatens the region’s food security.
“It’s a wake-up call for the region.”
To strengthen regional food security, he is calling on the region to make greater investments in growing its own food to ensure food security is not dependent on external countries, and reduce the food import bill to accommodate the economic fallouts of covid19.