Within the past 24 hours, Barbados signed new agreements with two of its CARICOM neighbours, providing for enhanced cooperation between the governments and the exploitation of opportunities in several areas of economic activity for their people.
The Agreement for a Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform between Barbados and Suriname was signed by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and President of Suriname Chandrikapersad Santokhi at the Presidential Palace in Paramaribo on Monday night, while the Barbados/Guyana agreement was signed during a break from talks at the 43rd Regular Meeting CARICOM Heads of Government [on Tuesday].
Responding to the assurance from the Surinamese president that he would hold his ministers and officers to a standard that would ensure the people of the two countries receive maximum benefit from the agreement, Ms. Mottley said:
“The truth is that we have seen already, substantive engagement between our private sectors. We’ve seen substantive engagement with ordinary people in sports and in other areas. And we are also seeing a very strong and continuous relationship with the government and people of Suriname, because we believe that we have an obligation to work with people in our neighborhood.
“And you are one of those who, for every reason, it is only language and history that have separated us thus far. And we have come to this point over the last few years to say that that should no longer be a barrier.
“Suriname is a major player in fisheries. Suriname is the location of CAHFSA, which is responsible for the regulation of sanitary and phytosanitary measures within our community. And if we want to expand our trade in food, if we want to have food security, CAHFSA is going to play a critical role in allowing us to be able to do so.”
Promising that Barbados would share what little it has with its neighbours in Suriname, who were badly affected by flooding in recent weeks because “today for you, tomorrow for me”, the Prime Minister added:
“President Santohki, we have worked perhaps closer in the last two years because of COVID, and the truth is, even though it led to a hiatus in the Brokopondo Agreement, … particularly with the physical exchange, especially when we were getting ready to do the exchange of workers in the agricultural sector and persons coming here, what we have been able to do in the interim has been to cooperate significantly with respect to issues with the pandemic and with climate. And we want to build on that going forward now.”
Meanwhile, the St. Barnabas Accord, which was negotiated in Barbados, and signed in Suriname [on Tuesday], provides for interaction between the two countries on:
Agriculture, Aquaculture and Food Security
Mining and Quarrying
Tourism and International Transport
Trade and Business Development
Education, Technical and Vocational Training, including Capacity Building
Cooperation in Security
Bilateral Integration Measures.
Particularly in the area of agriculture, on which the two leaders have spoken extensively in recent months, the St. Barnabas Accord states that Barbados and Guyana have agreed to the following:
• twinning of work programmes of Ministries responsible for Agriculture;
• placement of officials in each other’s Ministry of Agriculture;
• creation of Joint Working Group on Food and Nutritional Security comprising Ministries responsible for agriculture and health, state-owned agricultural and marketing corporations and private sector representatives;
• export from Guyana to Barbados of beef; corn and soya; coconut and coconut products; fruits and vegetables; poultry and poultry products; and other products as may be determined;
• export from Guyana to Barbados of shade houses;
• export from Barbados to Guyana of one thousand (1,000) artificially inseminated black belly sheep in tranches;
• establishment of a company to manage the black belly sheep production and the creation of a youth programme which includes differently- abled persons to work on a rotational basis on a fifty (50) acre farm in Guyana;
• lease by Guyana to Barbados of land at a concessional rate for the purpose of joint partnership in animal husbandry and poultry rearing (including poultry feed production) and for the production of flowers, food crops inclusive of breadfruit, cassava, plantains, pineapple, bananas, passion fruit, oranges and coconuts;
• Guyana to provide Barbados with the tissue culture for the planting of cherries, grapefruit, dragon fruit, breadfruit and other food crops for a project to be undertaken by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC);
• identification of an appropriate agricultural community in Guyana to partner with Barbadian farmers in undertaking large scale black belly sheep production in Guyana;
• increase production in the poultry industry with a view to reducing the food import bill and enhancing food security at the Regional level;
• establish a Food Terminal with operational plant and facilities in both Barbados and Guyana for local use and for export to the Region and further afield;
• develop a trade hub in Barbados;
• produce in Guyana and export to Barbados, eucalyptus trees and cane grass for use in a biomass plant;
• promote adherence to CARICOM’s 25×2025 initiative to increase food security and reduce extra-regional agri-food imports; and
• Barbados to participate in a meeting to be convened by Guyana to analyze gaps in the CARICOM 25×2025 initiative;
• Guyana to provide Barbados with an aquaculture plan that will include processing and packaging of fish. A technical team to visit Barbados to assist with the advancement of this project;
• Barbados to become a centre for the processing of meat and fish products for the Eastern Caribbean;
• Barbados and Guyana agriculture ministries to establish a youth exchange programme for aquaculture training;
• Early commencement of work by officials of the two countries for the standardization and harmonisation of protocols and procedures on sanitary and phytosanitary issues to facilitate timely approval and resolution of issues
• early commencement of work on the development of a programme and curricula for training and capacity building in agriculture.”
The 43 Regular Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government concludes [on Tuesday afternoon] in Paramaribo.