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Thinking About Food Security in the Caribbean

Across the world, governments, non-Governmental organisations, entrepreneurs and individuals are concerned with food security, a critical issue surrounding the steady and reliable food supply for populations. 

The Caribbean, with its unique geographical and environmental characteristics, is no different. Islands across the region are confronted daily with a plethora of challenges related to food security including limited arable land, vulnerability to climate change, and heavy dependence on food imports. Our farmers face small-scale agriculture struggles due to fragmented land holdings, inadequate infrastructure, or limited access to credit. This is further compounded by the frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes that pose a significant threat to agricultural production, disrupting the supply chain, and exacerbating the already overwhelming issues the Caribbean faces on food insecurity.

But Caribbean countries can adopt a range of strategies to enhance food security and combat some of these challenges, including:

  • Promoting sustainable agricultural practices, including organic farming, agroforestry, and hydroponics in order to optimise land use, conserve natural resources, and reduce the reliance on chemical inputs. 
  • Investing in agricultural research and development such as crop diversification, improved irrigation systems, and efficient post-harvest technologies to help increase productivity and enhance resilience against the impact of climate change.
  • Strengthening regional cooperation to facilitate knowledge-sharing and promote trade in agricultural products among CARICOM member states. Regional cooperation can lead to economies of scale, increased market access, and improved regional food security. Moreover, supporting small-scale farmers through training programmes, access to affordable credit, and improved infrastructure can help bolster their productivity and contribute to local food production.
  • Employing sustainable fishing practices and marine conservation efforts, which are also crucial components of food security in the Caribbean. Protecting marine ecosystems, enforcing sustainable fishing regulations, and promoting aquaculture initiatives contribute to the availability of nutritious seafood and safeguard livelihoods dependent on the fishing industry.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, through sustainable agricultural practices, regional cooperation, and conservation efforts significant strides are being made to improve the situation. It is essential for governments, international organisations, and stakeholders to continue working together to address the challenges and ensure a resilient and sustainable food system in the Caribbean, ultimately promoting the well-being and prosperity of its people.

Watch the July edition of the Central Bank of Barbados’ Caribbean Economic Forum, “Addressing Food Security in the Caribbean,” on Wednesday, July 12 at 8:00 p.m. to hear more about what’s being done and what can be done in future to support the region's food security.