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Food Markets in the Caribbean Take Stock of Vulnerability during COVID-19

The global coronavirus pandemic has made the Caribbean keenly aware of its need for greater food security.

PORT OF SPAIN, May 21 2020 (IPS) - The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the spectre of food insecurity as countries and citizens fear a return to the conditions that roiled the international food markets during the 2008 economic crisis.

Though food markets have withstood the shock caused by COVID-19, the Caribbean is being forced to take stock of its vulnerability. The region spends $5 billion annually on food imports from outside the region to feed its 44 million inhabitants and regional governments agree there is need for innovation to reduce this dependency on foreign food supplies. Governments have been talking for years about using e-commerce to support the region’s agricultural sector.

According to the Food Sustainability Index, created by the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), “governments also need to do more collaborating among themselves” to avoid a repeat of the food crisis during the 2008 economic crisis.

In this Voices from the Global South podcast, IPS Caribbean correspondent Jewel Fraser learns from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations how the global pandemic may yet shift the region’s focus in how it tackles food insecurity, while an e-commerce food retailer tells her how the Caribbean can make better use of technology to feed itself.

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