The President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should find ways to fast-track the production of the abundant natural gas reserves from Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and fulfill regional demand for fertilizer.
“If we will agree to design, as quick as possible, a common strategy to speed up the exploitation of the gas, then as a region, you can support the entire world and particularly Caribbean region with fertilizers,” he said.
Santokhi who was speaking during a press conference noted that the disruption in the supply chain of fertilizer due to the Russia/Ukraine conflict will have a serious impact on food security in the Caribbean.
The U.N. says Russia is the world’s number one exporter of nitrogen fertilizer and number two in phosphorus and potassium fertilizers. Its ally Belarus, also contending with Western sanctions, is another major fertilizer producer.
Higher fertilizer prices are making the world’s food supply more expensive and less abundant, as farmers skimp on nutrients for their crops and get lower yields. While the ripples will be felt by grocery shoppers in wealthy countries, the squeeze on food supplies will land hardest on families in poorer countries. It could hardly come at a worse time: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said last week that its world food-price index in March reached the highest level since it started in 1990.
According to the president, the current situation is an opportunity for CARICOM and there is now a need for the development of a regional energy strategy.
Meanwhile, CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett also said energy security is a top priority across the region and discussions are presently underway.
In the coming days during the Heads of Government conference that gets underway on Sunday, the leaders will discuss several issues including climate finance, industrial policy, food security and agriculture, and the Caricom Single Market and Economy.