University News

UWI/regional partners sign agreement to reduce Caribbean food import bill by 25 percent by 2025

UWI St Augustine has hosted the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to cut the Caribbean’s US$5 billion food import bill by 25 percent by 2025. The agreement (signed on May 15) between the CARICOM Private Sector Organisation (CPSO) and the Consortium of Universities in CARICOM Involved in Agricultural Education and Research (CUCAER) aims to bolster food security and agricultural development across the region.

The signing ceremony, which took place at the Office of the Campus Principal, was conducted in a hybrid format.

"Today marks a significant milestone in our journey towards enhancing agricultural development and regional food security,” said Professor Mark Wuddivira, UWI St Augustine’s Dean of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture.

“By collaborating closely with stakeholders across government, academia, industry, and civil society, we seek to catalyse transformative change and drive sustainable agri-food system development in alignment with national and regional priorities."

The MOA combines the resources of the CPSO and CUCAER to support the “25x2025” initiative created by the CARICOM Heads of Government. It focuses on developing human resource capacity and creating viable proposals to attract private sector investment in key agricultural commodities.

CUCAER comprises institutions such as Anton de Kom University in Suriname, The University of the Bahamas, the University of Guyana, The University of Trinidad and Tobago, and The UWI St Augustine campus.

Dr Patrick Antoine, Chief Executive Officer and Technical Director of the CPSO, emphasised the importance of private sector involvement: "The MOA will help the region build resilience in food security. It is for this reason we are happy to be here with all of you, particularly with the bright minds and tremendous competence that The UWI and other universities under this consortium bring to the table."

The signing ceremony was attended by representatives from member universities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, and the private sector, all expressing their commitment to advancing the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) goals through public-private partnerships.