FAO Calls on Governments to Institute Policies to Solve World Hunger


The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is imploring Governments around the world to create policies and fund programmes that will help people overcome hunger and poverty.
Gladstone Barrett, assistant FAO local representative, said the call was in keeping with commitments made at the 1996 World Food Summit, where Governments agreed that by 2015, they would cut by half, the more than 800 million persons faced with hunger and malnutrition.
He was speaking at the launch of World Food Day 2003 recently at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Hope offices in Kingston.
The event will be observed on October 16 under the theme, ‘International alliance against hunger’ and to mark the event, FAO member states are being encouraged to review the progress made in the fight against hunger.
Mr. Barrett reaffirmed the FAO’s commitment to supporting Jamaica’s fight against hunger and malnutrition and pointed to its assistance through programmes aimed at improving the quality of life of persons in rural communities. These include supporting grassroots projects in fisheries, school and backyard gardening.
He also mentioned the implementation of the Regional Special Programme for Food Security for countries within CARIFORUM, which is being funded by the Italian Government at a cost of US$5 million. Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from this programme, Mr. Barrett stated.
Meanwhile, Errol Ennis, State Minister for Agriculture, in a statement read by Don McGlashan, the Ministry’s Chief Technical Director, highlighted a number of projects which are in place to increase agricultural production and alleviate poverty.
These include: the Fruit Tree Crop Project, an import substitution initiative to meet the demands of agro processors and the Domestic Food Crop Project, which is geared towards increasing productivity and enhancing farm husbandry practices. There is also the Ministry’s goat production and commercialisation project, which aims to improve the local breeding stock in order to enhance the income earning capacity of goat farmers. A key objective of this project is to provide goat breeders and their families with an affordable source of protein.
The State Minister, in his statement, also pointed to the Milk Marketing Project, which is linked to the National School Feeding Programme and which seeks to improve the nutritional status of children of primary school age, and noted efforts to improve production by working with farmers and forging alliances with local and external agencies.
In forging alliances to reduce hunger, Minister Ennis’ statement observed that the Ministry’s Research and Development (R&D) Division was collaborating with international agencies including the FAO, the European Union (EU), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and local institutions such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC), the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) in the areas of pepper, banana, ginger and papaya research.
The objectives of this research are to provide farmers with up-to-date information on pest management, increase productivity and develop new plant varieties, read Minister Ennis’ statement.
In the case of hot pepper, the Ministry’s Research and Development Department is using applied technology to develop a “pure” Jamaican red pepper line and a red scotch bonnet, which are more suitable for the agro processing industry.
Over 3,000 people are involved in hot pepper production, which injects over US$1 million into the economy, making it one of the island’s most competitive crops, the statement said, adding that the development of new lines of hot pepper would help farmers to tap into lucrative markets locally and niche markets in North America and the United Kingdom.
Minister Ennis’s statement also highlighted the contribution of the agricultural sector in the fight against hunger, and referred to the Economic and Social Survey, issued by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which indicated that the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product in 2002 was $22.8 billion. The PIOJ Social Survey also shows that the sector supports an estimated 150,000 rural families, and is the main employer of labour, generating the largest amount of foreign exchange annually.
World Food Day is an initiative of the FAO, which is an organisation of the United Nations. Founded in 1945, the FAO has a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations.
Activities to mark the occasion will include a national church service on Sunday, October 12 at Thicketts United Church in St. Ann at 10:00 a.m. and a National Food Fair and exhibition will be jointly hosted by the Agriculture Ministry and the FAO on Thursday, October 16 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Donations in cash and kind and the proceeds from the food fair will be contributed to selected charities.

JIS Social