Caribbean Food Security in conflict contex
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will likely result in larger current account deficits and mounting external financing needs across energy importer countries in the Caribbean and Central America, reports Americas Quarterly.
Caribbean countries, already dependent on imported fossil fuels for their country’s energy needs, are vulnerable to the likely further escalation of oil prices as the conflict persists. Former World Bank managing director, Juan José Daboub, suggested that Caribbean governments may need to increase national budgets by at least 20% this year to adjust for prior assumptions. Countries “may have to buy oil with funds that they had earmarked for health, education or public works,” he told the Miami Herald last month.
“Freight costs are related to fuel prices (marine gas oil and fuel oil) and fuel prices are obviously linked to oil prices. This all means higher prices for food,” Kevin Ramnarine, Trinidad & Tobago’s former Minister of Energy, told Forbes.
Caribbean food security is deeply threatened by any major disruption that impacts the region, reports Forbes, noting that an annual average of 19 per cent of all imports to CARICOM’s 15-member states consists of food and agricultural goods. The more than $5 billion each year is typically covered by tourism-generated foreign reserves, which are vulnerable to disruption.
According to the Caricom Secretariat, the food import bill for the Caribbean Community stood at US$4.98 billion in 2018 which was more than double the region’s $2.08-billion food import tab of 2000. The Food and Agriculture Organization has indicated that if current trends continue, similar exponential increases in Caricom’s food import bill will take place in the coming years. (Jamaica Observer)
“Neither regional governments nor the CARICOM machinery itself have been able, over the years, to provide concrete responses to questions regarding particular timelines for moving forward meaningfully on the issue of regional food security,” notes Stabroek News in an editorial calling for “serious collective steps towards becoming a food-secure region.”
More Food Security
- Advocate and changemaker in the fields of gender equity in agriculture and rural development in St. Lucia, Keithlin Caroo discusses the intersection of Food, Gender, & Climate at the Climate Conscious podcast. Their conversation explores the status of food security in the region, the value of local foods and farmers, the importance of building inclusive systems, and sowing seeds of empowerment to ensure women in agriculture.
Climate Justice and Energy
- Environmentalist Simone Mangal-Joly has objected to a decision by Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency to waive the Environmental Impact Assessments for two 12-well exploration campaigns in the offshore Kaieteur and Canje Blocks, by ExxonMobil. (Stabroek News)
- Suriname is experiencing significant flooding in several interior villages. Local reports indicate Vice President Ronnie Brunswijk went personally to the affected areas by helicopter last weekend. (Caribbean Loop News, Star Nieuws)
- Finance for Loss and Damage was a critical issue in the lead up to and at COP26. While the outcome in the Glasgow Climate Pact was underwhelming, the momentum gained on this issue, if not derailed, can lead to more success at COP27 in Egypt, argue Liane Schalatek and Erin Roberts of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
- St. Lucia’s James Fletcher, director of the Caribbean Climate Justice Project, ex minister and ex climate negotiator at Paris discusses next steps in pursuit of climate justice for the Caribbean given events at COP26. (Two Cent Tuesday)
- Guyana’s extractive industries legislation is not advanced enough to permit effective reporting on the sector, according to Guyana‘s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Multi-Stakeholder Group member Vanda Radzik. (Stabroek News)
- Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. intends to press the Caribbean Community on their silence regarding oil and gas matters in Guyana that have the potential to adversely affect the region, reports Kaieteur News.
- Puerto Rico’s government formally exited bankruptcy this week, completing the largest public debt restructuring in U.S. history after announcing nearly seven years ago that it was unable to pay its more than $70 billion debt, reports the Associated Press.
- Health professionals in Haiti held a three day strike this week over a spike in gang-related kidnappings that have further destabilised the crisis-stricken island. The stoppage included the shutting down of public and private health institutions in the capital Port-au-Prince and beyond, with only emergency rooms accepting patients. (Al Jazeera)
- Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader is emulating former U.S. president Donald Trump’s proposal of a border wall as a one-stop solution to counter irregular migration, human smuggling and drug trafficking. But, as U.S. experience has shown, it’s complicated, reports InSight Crime.
- Marisel C. Moreno’s Crossing Waters: Undocumented Migration in Hispanophone Caribbean and Latinx Literature and Art— an innovative study of the artistic representations of undocumented migration within the Hispanophone Caribbean—will be published in the University of Texas Press series Latinx: The Future is Now in June 2022. (Repeating Islands)
- A series of six limited-edition large-format experimental photographic prints by Puerto Rican artist Lionel Cruet, along with a video, are part of the new exhibition “As Far as the Eyes Can See” at the San Patricio Art Center in San Juan. (Repeating Islands)
- The Dominican Republic’s government has always aligned itself with white supremacism, following the United States’ lead on immigration policies towards Haitians, according to Nacla.
- The case of three Taíno wood sculptures of Cemis (deities) from Jamaica held by the British Museum show the difficulties for former colonies to obtain restitution of their cultural heritage, but also raises questions about Jamaica’s preparedness to receive and exhibit the carvings. “It is high time for Caribbean museums and relevant authorities to do an inventory of relevant holdings in overseas museums, to consult with local and international stakeholders, and to articulate clear policies and strategies on these matters, nationally and on a shared regional level,” argues Veerle Poupeye in the Jamaica Monitor.
- Sudhir Hazareesingh’s account of what he dubs the “epic life” of Toussaint Louverture provides a meticulous biography of his subject and, at the same time, a comprehensive new introduction to the Haitian Revolution in general. Black Spartacus represents a substantial intervention in the field of Haitian revolutionary historiography and the wider historiography of revolution, according to Jacobin.
- Two recently published studies document 35 new beetle species for the islands of Saba and St. Eustatius. Even with these latest additions, it is still estimated that nearly three quarters of the beetle population is still unknown. Beetles play a vital role in breaking down natural waste and keeping insects in check, both important roles especially for small Caribbean islands. (Repeating Islands)
- 19 March — National Gender Policy: An Assessment of the Draft — Equality Bahamas
- 19 March — Will Oil Fuel Conflict in Guyana? — Moray House Trust
- 24 March — Climate Change and Land Tenure in the Caribbean — Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña in Puerto Rico. Registration.
- 24 March — The Role of Geographical Indications in the sustainable development of Caribbean economies and how Intellectual Property rights encourage and protect them around the world, featuring Professor Irene Calboli of Texas A&M University of Law — MonaLaw Distinguished Lecture and Panel Discussion on Geographical Indications — Register
- 26 March — How Europe Underdeveloped Africa — Walter Rodney Foundation
- FRIDA grant cycle open until April 19 for applications from young feminist groups. More info.