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Caribbean agriculture revisited

There has not been a substantive analysis of the state of agriculture in the Caribbean since 1981, an oversight that the Study on the State of Agriculture in the Caribbean sought to address. The comprehensive report covers 19 countries and focuses on the region’s low returns in agriculture, unpredictable climate, high imports and declining exports. These uncertainties have also dissuaded the youth from working in the sector, resulting in stagnation and an absence of innovative ideas on how the industry should move forward.

The lack of competitiveness and productivity in the region is highlighted by the report and there is a strong emphasis on the need for agriculture to diversify and embrace new solutions in order to reflect the changing economic and social environment. The report also underlines that there is very much an opportunity for growth in the Caribbean agriculture sector, suggesting improved regulation in agribusiness as one way to spur growth, as well as increasing competition within the agri-food value chain.

A more attractive setting for investors will increase agricultural development, which in turn will help to reduce poverty, the report states. The authors also emphasise the need for development within the aquaculture and fisheries sectors of the Caribbean Sea, where overfishing and natural resource degradation has led to a catch decline of 25% since the 1990s, despite fishing efforts having “almost doubled” since then.

In summary, Caribbean agriculture needs to be more inclusive, sustainable and competitive; this report offers the recommendations to make such a vision obtainable.        

Study on the State of Agriculture in the Caribbean
By FAO and the Caribbean Development Bank
FAO and CDB, 2019; 212pp.
ISBN 978-92-5131-488-3

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