• Start date: Sep 01, 2019
  • Institution:
    University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Researcher(s):
    Shupa Rahman
  • Supervisor(s):
    Dr. Simron J. Singh

Can the Caribbean be Food Secure? Industrial Ecology Perspective on Food Security in Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, and Dominica

The Caribbean region is home to 40 million inhabitants, with another 35+ million arriving as tourists annually. Yet, it produces only 15% of its food requirements. By conducting a biomass flow analysis between 1961 and 2018, this study investigates the opportunities and barriers to localizing food production in Jamaica, Barbados, Dominica, and Grenada through an “industrial ecology” lens, a research field that systematically analyses an economy’s resource use and efficiency. Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) often imports 80-100% of its staple food items; a precarious dependence. The physical trade balance (PTB) for biomass suggests that Jamaica, Barbados, and Grenada have been historically net exporters and have become net importers as early as the 1970s-1980s. Dominica, on the other hand, has been a net exporter for the most part and has only transitioned to a net import trade regime in the last two decades. This has been largely due to a significant decline in crop exports and the simultaneous increase in imports of livestock and other commodities. Hence, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, for achieving food security is faced with major challenges. Undernourishment is still significant, while the prevalence of obesity is on the rise, currently affecting 8.4% and 25% of the population respectively (Sustainable Development Report, 2019). This demonstrates the dual nature of island food security problem that demands solutions going beyond the conventional paradigms of economic development, to retrofit the linear food production system.