Remarks by Ambassador Theriot at Launch of USAID Regional Agricultural Program

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Nicole Theriot
Launch of USAID Regional Agricultural Program (CAPA)
January 24, 2024

Good Morning, everyone!

  • Honorable Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Agriculture
  • Joseph Cox, CARICOM Assistant Secretary General
  • Honorable Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who is joining us virtually
  • Professor Paloma Mohamed Martin, Vice Chancellor, University of Guyana
  • Honorable Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, and other government officials from the Caribbean both here and joining us virtually
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Adam Keatts, Associate Vice President and Practice Lead, Agriculture-led Growth, Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (IESC) and Mr. Sandiford Edwards, CAPA Program Director
  • Mervyn Farroe, USAID Regional Representative
  • Members of the media, specially invited guests, ladies and gentlemen — good morning!

I am thrilled to join you this morning to officially launch USAID’s exciting new program, the Caribbean Agricultural Productivity Improvement Activity, or CAPA.

Thank you to Minister Mustapha and the Government of Guyana for your collaboration on this very important regional program.  Thank you also to Vice Chancellor Mohamed Martin and UG for your incredible hospitality in providing this lovely venue and for hosting us today.

The CAPA program is an important milestone in U.S.-Guyana and U.S.-Caribbean relations as we roll out this key initiative to address food insecurity regionally.

Through the 2030 U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis, or PACC 2030, the US government is supporting our partners in the region to address the unique and evolving climate, energy, food security, and capacity challenges facing Caribbean nations.

Launched by U.S. Vice President Harris in collaboration with CARICOM and Caribbean countries during the Summit of the Americas in June 2022, PACC 2030’s objectives are based on four pillars, the third of which is being addressed by CAPA – Food Security and Enhancing Local Capacity for Climate Adaptation and Resilience.            CAPA is a direct result of the PACC 2030 partnership and is an integral approach to meeting our shared objectives to address food security in the region.

CAPA is a new USAID multi-year, 5.3 million dollar food security activity to mitigate     poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, which have all been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rampant inflation, and the climate crisis.

CAPA will address these challenges by promoting sustainable agricultural practices, increasing farmer knowledge via improved extension capacity, formalizing smallholder market access by building medium, small, and micro enterprise capacities, and improving the region’s access to locally-produced food.  In that way, it actually meshes quite well with CARICOM’s 25 by 25 project.

In addition to CAPA, implementing partner Improving Economies for Stronger Communities (or IESC) has already worked with USAID to validate two feasibility studies that will reinforce our work moving forward.  One study is focused on the development of a viable transport and logistics model to move food and agricultural inputs around the region—and the other is concentrated on developing a viable model for crop insurance.  In many of my conversations with both CARICOM and Government of Guyana leaders, including Secretary General Barnett and Minister Mustapha, these two issues continually come up as major challenges to food security in the region, so I am proud that we are helping to address them through CAPA.

I’m very pleased that IESC has based its main hub of operations here in Guyana and will be working throughout the region with a group of world class technical and local experts.  This new MOU that was just signed will lead to policy recommendations and help to mobilize additional technical and financial resources in the region, strengthening CAPA implementation even further.  The MOU will allow CAPA and UG to work together to improve the turmeric value chain in three of the beneficiary countries – Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

While on the subject of partnerships, I want to note that this work cannot be accomplished without many of the organizations here today.  Critical to CAPA’s success will be working together with the CARICOM Secretariat and our bilateral and multilateral partners, including the Government of Guyana.

Strengthened resilience to food security threats in the agricultural sector will mean a Caribbean that is more resilient to climate change.  I want to note that the United States is a steadfast partner to CARICOM and Caribbean nations as they confront this serious crisis.

Thank you Secretary General Barnett and your team at the Secretariat, for leading this effort with colleagues at USAID.

Minister Mustapha, Minister Caesar, officials and stakeholders here and joining online, I thank you and your wonderful teams for helping to design and develop this important activity.

The U.S. Government is very proud to support the region’s efforts to maintain food security for its citizens, and I can’t wait to see during my 3 years here the growth and improvements that come out of CAPA.

Thank you so much!