Caribbean, Latin American countries sign pact for food supply

SANTIAGO (CMC) — Twenty five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have expressed their commitment to coordinate the supply of sufficient, safe and nutritious food for the 620 million inhabitants of the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and signed by the ministers and secretaries of agriculture, livestock, fisheries, food and rural development notes that currently, the region’s markets have enough food to ensure supplies.

“Global stocks of major foods are at a good level, and harvests in major producing countries have been good. Eighteen million farmers, fisherfolk, ranchers and fish farmers, men and women, continue to work day by day in our region so that food is not lacking on our tables. So do workers in agribusiness, transportation, import and export companies, and wholesale and retail markets.”

According to the declaration, unlike previous crises, the food supply has remained stable in the world and in the region.

“Therefore, there are no reasons that justify significant increases in international food prices, and we call on all actors in the food system to prevent speculation at this time of emergency.”

However, it added, if the pandemic spreads over time, food supply chains will come under increased pressure.

“In this sense, if all countries strive to keep local, national, regional and global supply chains operating, we can ensure food in a sustainable way for the entire population.

For this, we commit ourselves to act in coordination, exchanging information and good practices, and to adopt appropriate measures in accordance with the reality of each country.”

The measures include the provision of technical and financial assistance to small and medium-sized agricultural, fishing, aquaculture, livestock, and small and medium-sized agro-industrial producers.

The countries have also pledged to ensure the regular functioning of local, regional and national wholesale markets; the implementation of emergency programmes to prevent food losses and waste; to introduce and promote the use of electronic food commerce platforms and applications ; to promote fiscal or trade policies, defined by governments as part of their response to the economic effect of the crisis; and to establish agile, public-private mechanisms that operate as emergency committees of food systems in order to facilitate constant monitoring of supply and the situation of the markets.

The secretaries and ministers who signed the declaration, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other multilateral organisations, including the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Caribbean Research and Development Institute(CARDI), pledged to: “commit ourselves to keep in touch and collaborate in all necessary measures to ensure that the 620 million Latin American and Caribbean people continue to have enough safe and healthy food every day at their tables.”

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