Caribbean Community (CARICOM) agriculture ministers have been presented with a study that analyzed the weaknesses and opportunities in intra-regional food trade and transportation, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat has said.
The Business Development Thematic Group (BDTG), chaired by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), with support from Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member countries, presented the study that also proposed actions to improve the regional transportation system and logistics environment, in a bid to enhance production development in these countries.
During the presentation, Bahamas Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Michael Pintard, acknowledged that, “logistics for transportation and trade of fresh produce along trade routes is of vital importance to the region and taking action in this regard is a matter of urgency”.
The study pinpointed successful cases worth emulating, such as the Container Examination Station at Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago and the in-port cold storage facility operated by Barbados Ice Company (BICO).
However, these cases must now be replicated in other countries in the region and reforms undertaken to streamline transactions at Customs and other border agencies. There is also a need to harmonize customs procedures throughout the region.
The presentation was made by Nigel Durrant, Agribusiness Specialist at the CARICOM Secretariat, who stressed the needs of small producers and exporters, who transport much of the fresh produce in the region, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean, which often has limited refrigeration facilities and infrastructure for loading operations and storage.
The statement quoted Durrant as explaining that the study had identified three logistics routes for the southern, eastern and northern Caribbean, and had indicated the types of investments that would be needed to improve the integration of these routes.
“The presentation also spoke to work being undertaken by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) in the area of agricultural insurance; the development of agricultural trade ties throughout the Region by the Caribbean Export Development Agency; and the creation of investment profiles by the Caribbean Agribusiness Association and the Institute,” the statement added.