Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, has called on the country’s farmers to ramp up production in order to ensure the country’s food security, particularly in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Minister, who was delivering the keynote address at a digital ceremony to mark World Food Day on Friday (October 16), said that maintaining access to safe and nutritious food “must be a critical part of our response to this pandemic”.
“This is the time for not only expanding production of our current crops but also for crop diversification. With the impact of climate change, we must also seek to plant more drought-resistant varieties,” he noted.
Meanwhile, with 14 per cent of food produced globally for human consumption lost each year, Minister Green said “the time has come for the private sector to come on board with us, by partnering with our farmers to establish agro-processing facilities that will facilitate value-added production”.
“We urge our private-sector partners to seize this opportunity to develop appropriate storage for produce,” he added, noting that such partnership will go a long way in addressing food waste as well as reduce price fluctuations during off seasons.
The Minister further pointed to the need for the over three billion people across the globe who lack access to the Internet, including farmers and food producers, most of whom live in rural and remote areas, to be brought online.
He argued that the lack of connectivity impacts the ability of farmers to market their produce, locally and internationally.
“It is for this reason that I intend to continue to lobby for greater access to finance, training, innovation and technology for our farmers to improve their livelihoods,” he pointed out.
The Ministry, along with the local office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, observed World Food Day under the global theme, ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together. Our Actions are our Future’.
The focus is on ensuring access to safe and nutritious food as an essential part of the response to COVID-19.
Minister Green said that responsible actions must be taken to ensure that food systems provide affordable and healthy diets for the population, while preserving natural resources and biodiversity.
He also pointed to the need for measures to address climate change and the implementation of warning systems that will be able to forecast periods of food shortage.