Regionally, agriculture plays a significant role in the livelihoods of all locals. The agriculture sector is a source of employment for many in the Caribbean countries. It accounts for an overall 16% of employment in the region – 18% in Jamaica, 20% in St. Lucia, 20% in Dominica, and 30% in Guyana.
There is a high demand for food across the region. The Caribbean region imports 60% of its food and with every year, it grows. Food demand increases the risk for the agriculture sector as plant pests and diseases are continuously finding new pathways to enter. Plant pests and diseases are costly to fight and prevent, often causing disruptions in Trade. These disruptions often see an increase in shipping costs, with food importation.
Nevertheless, the introduction of new technologies like hydroponics and aquaponics in agriculture creates an opportunity to accelerate food production, catering to regional food demand. Agriculture technology allows for more efficient cultivation of food, in a sustainable setting, without hurting the environment in a sustainable setting.
Sustainable agriculture is designed to meet society’s food needs but also ensures that future generations aren’t compromised in this objective. Other agricultural technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), connected sensors, and analytics can further build crop resilience and ensure the sustainability of increased crop yields while improving the efficiency of water and other inputs.
It is estimated that the food import bill in the Caribbean doubled over the last twenty years. Presently, governments have started to reduce their food imports, with the goal of a 25% decrease by the year 2025. Many Caribbean countries have remained steadfast in supporting food production in the region and promoting sustainable agriculture.
Caricom Today – Building Caribbean Food Security via Technology – A Caribbean Export Perspective
Reliefweb – Central America and Caribbean Food Security Outlook, February to September 2022
IICA – Caribbean Countries commit to building Agricultural Resilience to Climate Change Challenges.
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program – What is Sustainable Agriculture?
CARICOM – Strengthening Sustainable Agriculture in the Caribbean: A Guide for Project Support and Guidelines