JIS News

Jamaica’s food security status has improved significantly over the last decade as is evidenced by the upward trend in the number of adequately nourished persons.
Recently elected as Chair of the Special Ministerial Event on Food Security and Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke addressed the Plenary of the 33rd Session of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Conference in Rome in 2005 and pointed out in his presentation that in Jamaica, “the food security situation has improved significantly over the decade of the 1990s.”
Speaking with JIS News recently, Minister Clarke said “available data for Jamaica indicate that there has been a downward trend in the number of undernourished persons and in the level of poverty which was recognized by the World Food Summit (WFS) as a major cause of food insecurity.”
Minister Clarke went on to say that Jamaica served as an example to prove that food insecurity was not an insoluble problem.
Citing the factors, which could however endanger Jamaica’s achievement, Mr. Clarke said, “the Caribbean region has been seriously affected by severe weather conditions throughout 2004 and 2005. SIDS in the Caribbean are vulnerable to hurricanes and.these pose serious problems for development sustainability.”
Against this background, Minister Clarke said that the issues faced by SIDS included “the need to promote agricultural competitiveness, and economic and social adjustment to the erosion of trade preferences”, as well as the promotion of diversification and value added products. Linkages should also be developed between tourism and agriculture, he stressed.
Explaining that improved trade, development of niche marketing, investments in infrastructure such as irrigation and feeder roads were all extremely necessary, the Minister noted that the most important need was the adjustment to “the erosion of trade preferences in light of the new trade rules.” These rules create the structure within which all development would take place, he added.
In the meantime, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) states, which include vulnerable developing countries such as the least developed countries and SIDS, also presented a proposal which urged special treatment for developing countries, particularly for the delay in the erosion of trade preferences.
While agreeing with the ACP group, Minister Clarke in his statement to the conference however, presented Jamaica’s strategy for agricultural development. “Jamaica has formulated a strategy compatible with that recommended by the Mauritius Declaration. This strategy seeks to place the initiatives being taken by the Ministry of Agriculture within the context of the current level of development of the agriculture sector,” he outlined.
He told JIS News that he was of the view that the “FAO, with its emphasis on food security, development and sustainability, was best able to play a lead role in mobilizing assistance from the international community,” for the government’s successful implementation of the strategy.