The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will be adopting a unified approach to some of the common problems plaguing the region, including the fight against COVID-19, food security and rescuing the tourism sector.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley gave a snapshot of some of the key issues discussed on Thursday during the virtual inter-sessional summit of the Heads of Government of the region that was chaired by President of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Keith Rowley.
She was at the time providing an update to Barbadians as the almost month-long national pause to fight COVID-19 comes to an end on Sunday.
The issue of accessing COVID-19 vaccines from international manufacturers is one such problem. In spite of the COVAX facility, because of the size of the countries and the relatively small doses required, the region is not seen as a priority.
Mottley said again, the process was difficult and likened it to the wild, wild West.
“The region is adamant that there ought to be fairness and equity because that is the only way we are going to move through and to get the level of herd immunity in this race against the variants and mutations that have taken place in this pandemic,” she said.
Important decisions were also made with respect to food security in light of the disruption to production and supply as the COVID-19 pandemic rages. She said it was now recognised that the region’s goal of producing 25 per cent of its food by 2025 was a target that had to be brought forward.
The Prime Minister said she spoke to the head of the private sector organisation, advising there was a need to increase agricultural production, because the six-week and 12-week crops and stock could be quickly exhausted.
Mottley said there would also be a CARICOM approach to tourism. In Barbados’ case, 90 per cent of the numbers have fallen over the past year and the spill over effect was a reduction in demand for goods and services across other sectors. Overall revenue was also down.
“Therefore we believe that working together, we can find joint solutions because we are facing the same challenges,” she added. (SAT)