A new study on the state of agriculture in the Caribbean has found that currently regional countries face major challenges in their attempt to improve the competitiveness of the agriculture sector, including fisheries and aquaculture.
The 189-page study was published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The CDB, which is ending its 49th annual Board of Governors’ meeting here on Thursday, said that since its inception, it has identified the development of the agriculture sector in its borrowing member countries (BMCs) as one of its main priorities.
The region’s premier financial institution said that in 2017, following 40 years of structural change in the BMCs’ agricultural sector, it decided to update and revisit its Agriculture Sector Strategy, which dates back to April 1981.
“This decision would allow the CDB to confront old and new challenges with a new vision, especially considering the BMCs’ heavy dependence on food imports, the end of the preferential European Union market access for sugar and bananas, financial instability, and climate change,” it said.
According to the CDB, the majority of the BMCs have achieved key development milestones in the post-independence era, including relatively high human development indices and middle-income status. Nonetheless, BMCs continue to face significant socio-economic and climate challenges.
These include low and variable economic growth; unsustainable debt and weak fiscal management; high unemployment; high prevalence of non-communicable diseases; vulnerability to the effects of climate change and natural hazards; environmental degradation; crime and increasing threats to citizen security; as well as persistent and extreme poverty and food insecurity.