Caribbean Countries Call For Financial Aid To Assist Small Farming Communities

(CMC) — Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines have called for the establishment of financial mechanisms that target small farming communities and indigenous people.

Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, who is chairing the four-day 37th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, joined his St Vincent and the Grenadines counterpart, Saboto Caesar, in advocating for the financial assistance.

Mustapha, while commenting on the FAO’s new strategy on climate change, said that these mechanisms should be able to make resources readily and equally available for smart, small adaptive, and uniformed research given the effects climate change continues to have.

“We would like to see a reference of a financial mechanism that makes resources readily and equally available for smart, small adaptive, and unformed research targeting small farming communities and indigenous people.

“And today, when the world is being faced with the serious problem of climate change, we have seen the devastation in some countries. I think we have come to a point where we have to make a decision on what is necessary for us to move forward,” Mustapha said.

Mustapha told the conference that climate change continues to be a serious problem for small island developing states (SIDS) in the Caribbean and called on the FAO to take a stand on the issue.

“My colleague from St Vincent and the Grenadines suggested that a marine resources survey be conducted. Such a survey is very important for us in the region because the blue and green economy in these parts of the world contributes significantly to poverty reduction.

“Today, climate change is causing serious problems within our countries in the small island developing states, especially in the Caribbean. We are so vulnerable to climate change that now, as we are working to improve our agriculture capacity, it seems as though we are taking risks because of climate change. We cannot allow one or two countries to dictate the pace of our way forward.

“We are living in these times and we are living in these vulnerable places. We know what we are experiencing and we are now appealing that the FAO must take strong measures and take a stand on this issue,” Mustapha said.

Earlier, Caesar told the delegates that more time, money, and efforts must be allocated toward developing a climate change strategy for the SIDS in the region, particularly the importance of the blue and green economies.

He noted, too, that some of the fundamental principles and precepts of the Samoa Pathway should be reintegrated, and called on the FAO to promote more nature-based solutions when addressing the issue of food and agriculture.

Mustapha said that Guyana has been working to combat climate change through low-carbon development by developing high potential low carbon subsectors and industries, drought and flood management, and by practising climate-resilient agriculture with a special focus on Mangrove and Coastal Ecosystem Restoration, Integrated Pest Management and crop rotation.

He said that there are several challenges that must be addressed such as the need for adequate funds to support the adaptation of such initiatives, limited access to improved climate technologies, often due to limited access to finance, and limited research and development in suitable adaptation initiatives.

Prior to the start of the conference, the FAO said that its member countries unanimously approved the new FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031, which calls for supporting the 2030 Agenda through transformation towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems, to achieve better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no one behind.

The regional conference is held every two years and brings together the governments of the 33 member states of FAO in Latin America and the Caribbean to establish the regional priorities of the organisation for the next biennium.