Jamaicans Encouraged To Eat More Local Foods


Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Errol Ennis, has encouraged Jamaicans to eat more locally grown items, as development was constrained by the fact that much of what the nation earned was spent on imported goods, especially food imports.
He was addressing the World Food Day (WFD) Fair and Exhibition held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on October 16.
WFD was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1979 and serves to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world. In addition, it turns the spotlight on agricultural food production and stimulates national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end. It also promotes the transfer of technologies to developing countries.
Giving the main address at the function, Indian High Commissioner, His Excellency I. V. Chopra stated that the day’s theme “International alliance against hunger,” implied that the fight against hunger should be fought at global levels through international alliances.
Noting that the majority of the world’s population that was hungry could be found in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the High Commissioner recounted India’s experiences during the Green Revolution that began in 1967, in which successive governments sought to achieve food security and alleviate poverty.
During this time, strategies employed to ensure self sufficiency in food included the expansion of farming areas; the transfer of new farming methods to farmers through demonstration plots and incentives for farming such as concessionary rates on fertilizers, insecticides and seeds.
There was also increased use of irrigation and fertilizers during this period, which led to increased grain production.
The government also gave farmers a minimum support price at which it would purchase all their produce. This price took into consideration the cost of inputs and labour, thus encouraging farmers to continue production, said Mr. Chopra.
India also formed alliances with the United States and Mexico in developing high yielding dwarf wheat varieties.
India also has in place a public distribution system which ensures that food reaches the poor, and it maintains a buffer stock that retains a minimum level of food grains available at all times to meet any emergencies.
Noting that these strategies had proven very successful, High Commissioner Chopra said that currently agriculture was considered the backbone of the Indian economy. Seventy per cent or 700 million of India’s population currently depended on agriculture directly, while 65 per cent of the workforce was deployed in the agricultural sector, he advised. The sector contributes 25 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The FAO’s Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, in a message read by Gladstone Barrett, assistant FAO representative to Jamaica, encouraged nations to turn verbal commitments to fight hunger into practical programmes.
Dr. Diouf also encouraged nations to invest in agriculture as the majority of people lived in rural areas and derived their livelihood from agriculture.
“What is needed is the political will to tackle the underlying causes of hunger in all its manifestations,” said the Director-General, adding that 840 million persons were dying of hunger worldwide, although never before in the history of the world had so much food been produced.
Nations also have technologies that could substantially increase farm productivity and ensure better water management, he added.

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