JIS News

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has reiterated its commitment to supporting the country’s efforts to alleviate poverty and hunger.
Addressing the JIS Think Tank on October 15, Gladstone Barrett, assistant FAO representative, said in fulfilling that mission, the organisation haD assisted the Ministry of Agriculture to put programmes in place to improve the quality of life of rural populations.
Among the initiatives is the fisheries management project, which involves the development of a strategic plan for the development of the fishing industry, in recognition that a significant number of persons island wide depended on the sector for their livelihood.
The FAO has also assisted persons, who have migrated from the rural to urban areas to set up backyard gardens, and has funded the setting up of backyard gardening projects in schools.
Mr. Barrett also pointed to support given to the Jamaica 4-H Club to set up a small-scale hydroponics unit, through which young farmers could grow vegetables. “This makes it possible to do vertical expansion in small areas”, he said, explaining that the method entailed the growing of produce in a green house environment with nutrient solution that is free of soil support.
In recent years, the FAO has funded several grass roots projects such as small-scale poultry operations for women groups, and has helped to establish a fishing gear store in Rocky Point, St. Thomas.
The latest initiative is a US$5 million food security programme funded by the Italian Government, through which low-income food deficit CARIFORUM countries will be assisted to increase agricultural production.
There will be various sub-projects under the initiative, including the funding of irrigation schemes for small farmers; the production of vegetables using efficient technologies, and small-scale animal rearing such as poultry production. The project’s head office will be based in Trinidad and Tobago.
Turning to World Food Day (WFD), which is being observed worldwide today, Mr. Barrett said member states were being encouraged to review the progress made in the fight against hunger and to recommit to eliminating the blight.
The FAO representative noted that it was with the startling realization that 840 million persons worldwide were starving, that governments and heads of states attending the World Food Summit in 1996, had committed to cutting the figure in half by the year 2015.
As the date draws closer, Mr. Barrett is urging governments to display a higher level of commitment and even more stringent measures to achieve the objective.
“In most situations, we recognize that the political will is lacking,” he said, “and nations need to work harder to create the policy environment, provide funding and implement programmes and projects that allow people to overcome hunger and poverty.”
In order to assist nations to achieve the goal, in 2001, a series of consultations termed Horizon 2010 were held and the FAO met with the various member states to develop coordinated agriculture strategies.
Noting the theme for the event, which is ‘International alliance against hunger’ Mr. Barrett called on civil society to join in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, saying it was a shame that in a time of plenty, hundreds of millions of persons were going to bed hungry every night.
He also encouraged Jamaicans to come out and celebrate World Food Day, which is being highlighted by a food fair and exhibition at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre. The fair began at 10:00 a.m.The organisation will also award medals to charitable institutions for their work in fighting hunger and feeding the hungry.

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