US Secretary Blinken announces US$5.5M contribution to small farmers in the region

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US Secretary Blinken announces US$5.5M contribution to small farmers in the region

US State Secretary Antony Blinken has announced a $US5.5 million contribution to assist small farmers in the region.

He said the US recognises its responsibility in addressing climate change and its impact on Caribbean countries.

Blinken gave Caricom the assurance that the US will assist by expanding access to finance, strengthening disaster preparedness, among other things.

He made the announcement while at the 45th Caricom heads of government summit at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, on Wednesday – the final day.

Blinken congratulated Caricom on its 50th anniversary, he recalled the words of former Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley who urged the region to seek strength in unity.

“I think that’s a very powerful mission statement that Caricom has now carried on for 50 years,” Blinken said.

He said Manley’s words perfectly describe Caricom’s current partnership with the US – “a fellow Caribbean nation.

“Unity starts with listening. This is why we have engaged intensely with leaders across the region to hear – to hear the issues that matter most to your citizens.

“I was with (US) President (Joe) Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris when they heard directly from our Caribbean friends at the Summit of the Americas. We’ve heard you since then in the joint action committees that we’ve created on climate, on energy security, on food security, on access to finance, and we hear you every day through our diplomatic posts throughout the region.”

“In no area is this more evident than your leadership – everyone around this table – in actually rallying the world to address the climate crisis and to strengthen energy security for all of us.”

He continued, “We know that most of the communities being hardest hit by climate change have done the least to contribute to it. We recognise that as the world’s second-biggest emitter, and the number one emitter historically, we have a unique responsibility – the US – to address this problem.”

He said the US has been working “relentlessly” to avoid a climate catastrophe, which is why Biden returned the US to the Paris Agreement.

“This is by far, as I think you all know, the largest commitment to tackling the climate crisis in history by any country anywhere.

“Each of the countries of the G7 has actually adopted plans that, if implemented – and that’s an important if – will actually help keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We need other major economies outside of the G7 to do the same.

“Your partnership, your leadership in pressing the biggest emitters to make the necessary commitments and then holding us to those commitments – that is indispensable. And we really deeply value the work that you’re doing on that score.”

Blinken said the US also wishes to accelerate Caricom’s transition to clean energy as it’s the “driving focus between the partnership we established.”

That partnership, he said, is the US‑Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030.

“With the additional $20 million that Vice President Harris announced in climate funding just last month in the Bahamas, we’ll continue to build together on those efforts.

“We’re working to strengthen disaster preparedness…We are working to expand access to international finance…We said that we would press financial institutions to allow countries to defer debt payments in the event of climate shocks and natural disasters.

“These investments are not just necessary to protect against threats, they are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create good-paying jobs in communities across the region. ”

He added that the US is committed to addressing the region’s growing food insecurity, which has intensified owing to the Russia/Ukraine war and covid19.

“According to a recent UN report, one in two people in the Caribbean cannot afford a healthy diet.

“Today I’m pleased to announce that we’ll dedicate an additional nearly $5.5 million to help small farmers in the Caribbean boost productivity, increase access to technology and markets and adopt climate smart practices.