Guyana will, in 2024, host the 38th session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean (LARC). This was disclosed during the closing ceremony of the Conference last Friday in Ecuador.
This is the first time the conference will be hosted in Guyana and comes at a time when the country has been playing the leading role in agriculture and food security matters in CARICOM.
While making remarks after receiving unanimous endorsement for hosting the conference from all 33 member states, Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha said the Government of Guyana remains committed to working with all governments in the region and with the FAO in preparation for the upcoming conference in 2024.
“We are conscious of the many challenges to the agri-food sector across the world, including challenges presented by the climate crisis. We are conscious too, that greater coordination and coherence can result in many opportunities and innovations for addressing those challenges. Guyana is therefore committed to providing space to further this coordination among the countries of our region and for the sharing of experiences with a view to promoting stronger agri-food sectors across our countries, guided by global policy objectives. We are committed to working with all the governments in the region and with the FAO in preparation for LARC38,” the minister said.
Minister Mustapha in a subsequent interview with FAO media representatives spoke of the importance of hosting the conference as Guyana and CARICOM work towards lowering the regional food import bill by 25% by 2025.
“Guyana has vast land space and a large amount of fresh water, which are the two most important components to improve agriculture output. As a country that is leading the agri-food system in the Caribbean, we have been working very closely with CARICOM to reduce the food import bill by 25% in the next three years. We are hoping to use the upcoming FAO Conference that will be held in Guyana as a catalyst to move this process forward because by 2024 we would’ve gone a far way in terms of moving and reducing the input food import bill of the Caribbean,” Minister Mustapha noted.
Guyana’s participation at the conference was also commended by the FAO’s Director-General Qu Dongyu. He thanked Minister Mustapha for his willingness to serve as both Vice-Chair and Chair during the ministerial sessions as well as for the delivery of several noteworthy presentations over the 5 days.
“I want to thank Minister Mustapha from Guyana who very effectively, served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the several sessions of this regional conference. We seek to offer you our support for your active participation in the fruitful and successful deliberations. Let us continue to work together in an efficient and effective way and a coherent manner to achieve the desired results. The next turn, it’s a new bar, a new benchmark, and a new standard for my friend from Guyana,” Mr. Dongyu said.
Alluding to the fact that Guyana was the only country to form part of the Caribbean and South America, Minister Mustapha expressed that the next conference will afford officials the opportunity of the best of both worlds.
“Guyana is the only country that touches South America and connects the Caribbean. We’re the only English-speaking country in South America and a big part of the Caribbean. So, when you attend the conference in 2024 you will, to some extent, attend both in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the minister added.
The Conference serves as a forum for member states to meet, identify, and discuss key priority areas of work with FAO and provide guidance on the effective implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, in line with the regional specificities of Latin America and the Caribbean. The biennial brings together Ministers of the world’s largest agri-food net importing and exporting regions to discuss healthy diets, inclusive rural societies, and sustainable agriculture.
Last February, Guyana hosted the International Energy Conference and Expo which attracted delegates, investors, and exhibitors from around the world. The government is also scheduled to host the first-ever Agri-Investment Forum and Expo in May.