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Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, today (Oct. 26) appealed to agricultural technocrats within the Americas to come up with concrete action plans to increase productivity in the region.
He was addressing the opening of the meeting of the Hemispheric Group for the Implementation and Co-ordination of the Agreements on Agriculture and Rural Life of the Summits (of Americas) Process (GRICA) at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay St. James.
“We cannot afford for this Ministerial meeting to be just talk and no action. Now more than any other time, urgent action is required,” Dr. Tufton stated, noting that increased productivity is crucial to ensuring food security and sustainable rural development.
He cited a Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), report which estimates that by 2050, world food production has to be doubled to meet population demands and to avert widespread hunger and food insecurity.
He noted further that while food prices have moderated somewhat over the past few months, they still remain at pre-2006 levels. “There is now a convergence of views that what we experienced with the scenario of record food prices is not a cyclical phenomenon, but rather reflects a structural change. This structural shift portends the danger of widespread hunger in the next few years, if we do not collectively increase agricultural production and productivity,” he stated.
The Agriculture Minister urged the delegates, in their deliberations, to consider the challenges of global warming and climate change to increased food production.
Director General of the Inter American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA), Dr. Chelston Brathwaite, in concurring with Dr. Tufton, said that it is time for action in addressing food security in the region.
“Now is not the time for more mandates; now is the time for action, now is the time to take strategic, clearly defined measures to ensure that we reduce rural poverty in this hemisphere, otherwise we shall have no urban peace,” he declared.
He expressed the view that the reduction of rural poverty will lead to more equitable living within the hemisphere, and this will only be achieved through a prosperous agricultural sector.
Delegates from approximately 34 countries are participating in the one-week conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Building capacity for enhancing food security and rural life in the Americas’. It ends on October 30.

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