- Head of State receives inaugural IICA award
San Jose, Costa Rica—(October 4, 2023) His Excellency President Dr Irfaan Ali said that Guyana aims to work with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to develop a technology-driven regional food hub.
The Head of State, who received an award from IICA for his Leadership in Food Security and Sustainable Development on Tuesday night at a special ceremony in the Central American country, said that the region must build an alliance around food security.
To ensure this happens quickly, the President said, “We are going to be working with IICA on the establishment of a regional food hub, with the right technology, applying the right phytosanitary standards, so that the products that come through the regional food hub will have all the standards for all the countries”.
He added that proper farming practices and soil management are key to maintaining the optimal nutritional values of food, which can lead to long-term sustainability in the region.
“In the region, we are proposing to establish a state-of-the-art innovation centre, agri investment and innovation centre, that will bring the best of technology, the best of knowledge, the best of leadership, and, importantly, to build this digitisation around this innovation centre.”
The centre, the President explained, can be used to involve every segment of the region’s population in the food production chain and will also allow for applicable technology to drive innovation and business models that will be competitive and profitable, and also be able to be easily transported to different countries.
On Tuesday, the President also had talks with the IICA directors on converting the Guyana School of Agriculture into a regional institution with the IICA brand.
YOUTH AND WOMEN
President Ali also stressed the need for the region to involve more women and youth in agriculture. He explained that Guyana has set itself a target of having 35% of all new agricultural production projects owned by women and youth.
“And here is where the technology, the innovation, and building in the entrepreneurship aspect of agriculture and food production will help us to achieve this target. It is very important that we ensure women and young people are brought along this journey of food production and agriculture.”
He underscored that women and youth will find agriculture more appealing if technology is used.
The use of technology too, the President explained, will build resilience and sustainability in the sector.
“We have to make a strong commitment to go after women and young people in this information drive.”
During the awards ceremony, the President also spoke extensively on Guyana’s rapidly expanding and diversifying agriculture sector and on ways it is helping the CARICOM region to reduce its food import bill by 25% by 2025.