PARAMARIBO, Suriname – On July 25, 2017, the Ministers of Agriculture of Suriname, Guyana, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, as well as representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture of Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and The Bahamas participated in the Caribbean Agricultural Policy Forum organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The Caribbean Agricultural Policy Forum analyzed the agricultural policy strategies of the different countries of the Caribbean region and their impact on the performance of the sector, as well as the challenges they face, including: the vulnerability of small producers to price volatility in the global market and the impacts of climate change. The dialogue was based on the collection of agricultural public policy analysis conducted by the IDB for each of these Caribbean countries, within the framework of the IDB’s Agrimonitor initiative.
Agricultural policy analysis in the Caribbean showed that the total public-sector support provided to the agricultural sector ranged from 0.3 per cent of GDP in Trinidad and Tobago to 6.5 per cent of GDP in Haiti, while the proportion of agricultural income represented by public-sector support is between 6 percent of Belize and 33 percent of Jamaica.
Based on these indicators, speakers at the Forum focused on how some agricultural policies such as market price supports may benefit some producers at the expense of consumers, specifically, consumers with the lowest incomes. Other presenters noted how trade in agricultural products can be affected by tariffs, through limiting its size and efficiency. Panelists also discussed the limited funding for general agricultural services, such as research and infrastructure, which could limit the ability of Caribbean farmers to compete effectively in global markets.
During the Forum, experts presented detailed analysis of the policies of each one of the Caribbean countries participating and the impact in their corresponding agricultural sector. For example, in Suriname, strengthening animal and plant health would greatly benefit the agricultural sector while contributing to increased productivity. In Guyana, increased support for general service investments would contribute to lowering the overall cost of production and fostering long-term competitiveness. Improving infrastructure weaknesses in Haiti would have a positive impact on the country's agricultural sector, which accounts for approximately 21 percent of its GDP.
About the IDB
The Inter-American Development Bank's mission is to improve lives. Founded in 1959, the IDB is one of the main sources of long-term financing for the economic, social and institutional development of Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts state-of-the-art research projects and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private clients throughout the region.
- Christopher Barton