CASTRIES, St Lucia — A special meeting of the OECS Council of ministers of agriculture will be held virtually on Thursday, 30 April 2020 under the chairmanship of Saboto Caesar, minister of agriculture, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The meeting will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the region’s agricultural sector and the imminent need for regional food security. Ministers will also discuss support to Member States to assist with cushioning COVID-19-related issues.
The declaration of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, resulted in increased risk to global food production due to the expected impact on factors such as farm labor, transportation, and hoarding by major global producers.
In this regard, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission is cognisant of the urgent need of the Member States to collaborate on strategic interventions aimed at mitigating and even reducing the level of food insecurity in the region.
Director-General of the OECS, Dr Didacus Jules, said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the economies of the region. We recognised from early on that there was also the possibility of a severe negative impact on the region’s food supply given our heavy reliance on food imports. The Member States of the OECS – with St Vincent and the Grenadines as our lead – has been on a structured path towards food security, import-substitution, and healthy food consumption.
As debilitating as the pandemic has been, it also provides us with an opportunity to completely transform our economies and to do many of the things that we have long aspired to do but have failed to address with urgency. The meeting of agriculture ministers will give us an opportunity to review the work that has been ongoing and agree on measures to accelerate production (including community and domestic gardens), reduce imports, stimulate intra-OECS trade and improve the nutritional status of our populations.”