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Posted: Monday 8 July, 2024 at 10:12 AM

Ali: 25 by 25 initiative impacted by Hurricane Beryl

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- THE region’s push for food security and sustainability has suffered a setback with the passage of Hurricane Beryl, which devastated several islands during its brief stay.


    The Category Five storm impacted Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica, causing varying levels of damage.


    Dr. Irfaan Ali, CARICOM’s lead on agriculture, acknowledged the setback to the 25 by 2025 food security plan caused by Hurricane Beryl.


    Under the 25 by 2025 initiative, territories aim to bolster their production levels of various specialized crops to decrease their food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.


    “The initial assessment is heart-wrenching for our farmers, for the government, and for the people of these countries. It is heart-wrenching because of the tremendous investment, the tremendous policy commitment, and budget support that was placed in the agricultural sector since 2020” said the Guyana President in a speech.


    He noted the investments made in infrastructure, water systems, technology, crop variety, farm support, and farm-to-market infrastructure, all of which have been damaged in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.


    “Many of these countries would have lost all of this investment. The initial investment, the initial assessment on the impact of Beryl on the agricultural sector not only shows that, and when I speak about agriculture here, I am speaking about aquaculture, not only shows that we have lost the years of hard work and investment, but the imminent damage to infrastructure and crops and livelihood from the agricultural and fishery sector is in the tens of millions of dollars,” added Ali.


    According to the president, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Jamaica, and Barbados were on track to achieving the 25 by 2025 targets. However, investigations revealed major damage or complete decimation of the agriculture sector.


    Ali emphasized the need to address short, medium, and long-term issues in the agricultural sector comprehensively. Though he did not specify these issues, tackling climate change and farming to protect against hurricanes are likely areas of focus.


    In Barbados, Ali explained that one-third of the Bridgetown fishing harbor was destroyed, with over 200 fishing vessels damaged or destroyed, severely impacting the fishing industry. Additionally, hundreds of acres of agricultural commodities were lost. Coastal infrastructure and property also sustained damage from the storm surge and high winds.


    Ali highlighted that the dependents in Grenada were decimated, with livestock, farmland crops, and cash crops completely destroyed.


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