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Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has said that food security must be placed high on the national agenda, and strategies and policies should be developed to combat vulnerability.
Speaking today (Dec. 12) at the official opening of the national training workshop on food security and vulnerability analysis at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Mr. Clarke stated that the workshop, which is a component of FAO/CARICOM/CARIFORUM Food Security Project, was timely, as the agricultural sector continues to face a number of serious challenges in regards to food security.
“The erosion of preferential tariffs in respect of traditional exports; an increase in rural poverty; and unpredictability of natural disasters, as was experienced with the recent floods in Portland and St. Mary, all attest to the vulnerability and insecurity of the sector,” he said.
Minister Clarke further noted that in order for Jamaica to achieve food security, reliable information must be gathered and analyzed using appropriate analytical tools, with the view of formulating well-targeted policies and initiatives.
He pointed out that under the FAO/CARICOM/CARIFORUM Food Security Project, a regional food security assessment is currently being undertaken. “The objective of this activity is to pinpoint the factors contributing to food insecurity and vulnerability and, consequently, to generate the information required for effective planning and policy formation”.
Citing other efforts under the project, he informed that in September officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and the Ministry of Health received training in food security and vulnerability analysis at a regional workshop in Trinidad and Tobago.
In addition he informed, “in May, a national stakeholders consultation was held in support of this activity and to date focus groups discussions have been completed as part of the ongoing fieldwork”.
Mr. Clarke urged key stakeholders in the Ministries responsible for agriculture, health, nutrition, social development, education and trade, to work together to ensure that policies were coherent and well integrated.
Meanwhile, Charles Carmichael, Food Security Policy Analyst, informed that the general objective of the four day workshop was to “provide at the national level, a wider crossing of persons with the basic information on the concepts and principles of food security and vulnerability as well as enable them to be able to use qualitative and qualitative tools and methods in analyzing information on food security and vulnerability”.
Another objective of the workshop is to identify policy interventions at the national level that are pertinent towards addressing some of the issues as it relates to food security and vulnerability.
The Project is funded by the Government of Italy in collaboration with 14 member states of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic.
The project is expected to improve the food security situation of the CARIFORUM States by increasing the availability and access to adequate quantities of safe, quality-assured food products.