JIS News

World Food Day (WFD), observed on October 16 since 1979, is a worldwide event designed by the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to increase awareness and understanding of year-round action to alleviate hunger.
There have been tremendous advances in technology, but the world is still challenged by the scourge of hunger, with an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009.There are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, which means that almost one-sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.
Donovan Stanberry, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, says that World Food Day will continue to remain a critical observance, as long as this situation exists.
He says that though Jamaica has not yet reached the critical level, food security is still a major issue. He also bemoans the fact that Jamaica currently imports about 60 percent of what its people consume and sees that as a situation that is “definitely not sustainable”.
“When you have money it’s not that bad, but when there is a food crisis, instinctively, nations that are net exporters begin to impose export bans,” he explained. He adds that it is important that nations build up their capacity to produce the critical mass of food that they consume.
Quizzed on the impact of World Food Day on the Jamaican economy since the country began observing the calendar event, he pointed out that the WFD would not have a major impact on the economy of Jamaica, singlehandedly. But, the accent on promoting food security on that day is part of a wider, and very successful, ‘Eat What You Grow’ campaign by the Government.
The statistics show that the country’s food bill increased in 2008, but Mr. Stanberry pointed out that this did not result from an increase in imports, as there was a 28 percent decline in the amount imported, but because the cost of food increased, worldwide.
He said, however, that a University of the West Indies (UWI) study showed that more Jamaicans had begun engaging in backyard gardening. The Ministry declined taking credit for the change, but noted that “it made more economic sense to Jamaicans and was impacting positively on their pockets.”
He also pointed to a shift in the attitude of Jamaicans to ‘eating local’.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that the country needs to grow more of what it consumes.
“We have localized the need for us to grow food by supporting an ‘Eat What You Grow’ programme, locally, which emphasizes the value of what we grow and the benefits of consuming what we grow, both from a nutritional and economic perspective,” he pointed out.
World Food Day will, this year, be observed under the theme ‘Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis’. Jamaica’s observance will be marked by an opening ceremony and exposition at the Garvey Maceo High School in Vernamfield, Clarendon.
Activities to mark the day will include the fencing of a

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