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Recently, there have been a number of political pronouncements on the urgent need to reduce the regional Food Import Bill.

In 2019, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, directly linked the revival of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) to a reduction in regional food imports. In 2020, Caricom Heads approved the Proposal of its Associate, the Caricom Private Sector Organisation (CPSO), to reduce food imports 25% by 2025.

Guyana’s President, Irfaan Ali, at Heads’ Meetings in 2021 and 2022, enthusiastically supported the reduction of the Food Import Bill and the 25×2025 Proposal. He proposed specific initiatives like the Caricom Sustainable Agriculture Facility (CSAF).

In 2022, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Agriculture Minister, Saboto Cesar Jnr, adopted the 25×2025 proposal.

There were previous Expressions of Intent aimed at reducing food imports. The most renowned of these was in 2004, when three senior regional professionals (including the author) supported then Guyana President, Bharrat Jagdeo, to prepare the Grand Anse “Framework for the repositioning of Caribbean agriculture.” In 2005, it was approved by Heads as the Jagdeo Initiative (JI).

The import bill in 2005 was US$1.64 billion. It now approximates US$3.8 billion.

What went wrong? The failure to implement the decisions of Heads. Some major causes (mostly identified as Key Binding Constraints in the JI) of this crippling Implementation Deficit follow.

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