Rising Food Prices Reinforce Need for Region to
Accelerate Climate-Smart Agriculture Projects
RESPONDING TO RISING FOOD PRICES
Anyone who has visited a grocery over the last year would have noticed one disturbing trend; food prices have been soaring on a consistent basis. This trend is not exclusive to the Caribbean. The United Nations has reported that global food prices rose sharply in 2021.
With Jamaica’s food import bill averaging over US$1 billion annually GraceKennedy’s (GK) Group CEO Don Wehby has renewed his appeal for the country to invest heavily in the agricultural sector upon which manufacturers rely for raw materials.
In Trinidad and Tobago, President of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Rajiv Diptee noted: “If you think food prices are high now, expect them to continue to rise over the next year as the country reels from imported food inflation.”
The combined scenario of consistently high costs of inputs, the ongoing global pandemic and ever more volatile climatic conditions leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions in 2022.
ACCELERATING CLIMATE-SMART PROJECTS
But there is a saying that out of adversity comes opportunity, and the opportunity that is available to the Caribbean right now to address this challenge head on is to refocus its efforts on pursuing the development of climate-smart agriculture projects, such as the one Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator (CCSA) is working on around the region, with the first pilot being prepared in Jamaica.
We are partnering with the private sector to pilot this programme to target at-risk youth and create entrepreneurship while identifying a path to food security for the region. The project aims to combat the negative impact of future climate scenarios while promoting food security, and building capacity in alternative farming methods in order to provide income.
Investors have been ecstatic by the prospect of this programme and have been coming on board as the potential cash flows create a fertile opportunity to invest in new solutions that also save foreign exchange by targeting import substitution.
The project in its initial iteration will use climate controlled refrigerated shipping containers outfitted with solar powered air conditioning units in collaboration with and following the Simply Mushrooms model from St. Lucia.
COLLABORATION AND INNOVATION NEEDED
Another innovation underway in the agricultural sector incorporates collaborating with Hello Tractor to explore expanding this level of agricultural innovation, already present in Jamaica to the rest of the region to the benefit of all.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges related to food security, economic stability and employment,” said Kiesha Farnum, Director of Public Sector Projects at CCSA. “As we are seeing in Jamaica, climate-smart agriculture can play an important role in minimising the human and economic impact created by increases in food prices, while opening new doors for economic diversification and revenue generation. But we must collaborate and innovate on a regional level at scale.”
If you have a climate-smart agriculture project that needs financial support to accelerate its development, complete our project matchmaking form below and let us review it to determine if we can pair your project with an interested investor.