Prioritisation of Food Security by Decision Makers in the Caribbean, a Study of Three Caribbean Territories: Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Barbados
Renwick, Shamin. 2015. “Prioritisation of Food Security by Decision Makers in the Caribbean, a Study of Three Caribbean Territories: Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Barbados” In Agribusiness Essential for Food Security: Empowering Youth and Enhancing Quality Products, Proceedings of the 30th West Indies Agricultural Economics Conference 30th June – 6th July, 2013, Port of Spain, Trinidad, edited by Hazel Patterson-Andrews, 84-97. St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago: Caribbean Agri-Economic Society (CAES).
The consequences of global food and nutrition insecurity, for example, high and fluctuating food prices would have had an impact on individual countries worldwide. This vulnerability in the Caribbean is, in fact, reflected in the recognition that none of the territories are able to produce all the food that is required to feed their populations and ensure that people lead healthy and productive lives. The extent of this exposure is reflected in the high food import bills of many Caribbean countries. Do policymakers and those who most closely influence them, in terms of their decision making for national food security, identify the impact of global food and nutrition insecurity as a main constraint to enhancing national food security in their countries? Is food security the highest priority of the various objectives of the agriculture sector? Using a qualitative approach to answer the above questions, policy makers, planners and key persons who influence policy makers in three diverse Caribbean countries (Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Barbados) were interviewed and asked to complete an Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) questionnaire to rank their priorities. This paper presents some early results of the AHP analysis in an ongoing PhD study. In terms of the criteria weightings, sustainability of the food supply was judged to be far more significant than the level of external dependency. And whereas economic trade-based food security was scored as the most important objective of agriculture, supporting producers and local agribusiness was the second most important surpassing food self-sufficiency and sustainability of the environment, as well as, maximising employment in the agricultural sector and production for the export trade. These results have implications for the plans and policies designed to enhance the level of food security locally and regionally.