A special Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) – Agriculture meeting was convened by the CARICOM Secretariat on March 19 to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food and nutrition security in the Region.
With the prospect of a disruption in extra-regional food supplies, Regional production will need to be ramped up. According to Executive Director, Barton Clarke, “this is war and regional food production should be placed on an emergency footing”.
To aid the regional effort, CARDI will serve as a hub of information to inform planning and decision making, particularly as it relates to infrastructure, germplasm supplies and production capacity for commodities of importance. The Institute will also serve as a data source for trade and market prices for critical commodities, input supplies and mapping of the key private sector supply chain actors.
As a supplier of planting material for various commodities CARDI has already ramped up production to meet the increase in demand.
The regional response framework to COVID-19 envisions Member States drawing up national food security plans, engaging the private sector to ensure their supply chains are in place and interacting with farmer and producer organisations to see how best to boost local production of food in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Institutional coordination and an effective communications strategy were also among the pillars proposed.
During this time CARDI will continue to Chair of the Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Cluster as well as continue to provide technical and advisory support to national committees and systems.