Caribbean countries urged to invest more in agriculture

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, September 30, 2009 – Barbados’ Agriculture Minister Haynesley Benn has urged the Caribbean to invest more in their respective agricultural sectors, in order to bring about the transformation and diversification needed to give the industry a much needed boost.

He was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report, 2009, this week at the United Nations House.
“(Although) we have put the policies in place, and we have outlined the constraints to development in the Jagdeo Initiative, the region has still come forward with too few resources, much too slowly,” Benn said.

“There has been a general decline in investment into the agricultural sector over the years.  As a result, the region as a whole has seen technology and extension services practically wither away, with drainage and irrigation systems not being well maintained, while the global challenges facing our agricultural exports demand a change of emphasis in the agricultural sector.”

Benn added that the increased debt challenges in some Caribbean countries demand greater attention to saving and generating foreign exchange, while the food security and health challenges require attention to food availability and food accessibility. He said all these challenges call for increased investment in the agricultural sector.

UNCTAD’s 2009 edition analyses the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on investment flows into the agricultural sector.

The Report, which has as its theme ‘Transnational Corporations, Agriculture Production and Development’ is the 19th in the series of Investment Reports published by UNCTAD since 1991.

It is aimed at providing an in-depth analysis of global and regional trends in Foreign Direct Investment as it relates to economic development.