“The Caribbean has imported more than US $5 billion in food, we are killing ourselves with all of this imported/processed food” says Dr Fletcher-Paul, Sub- Regional Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization for the Caribbean.
Day 2 of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture began with a media briefing where the panel consisted of representatives from the sponsoring agencies and those hosting sessions on the agenda for the day.
At the press briefing, Dr. Fletcher-Paul touched on some of the projects FAO is seeking to execute, including their youth project ‘FIYA’ – Financial Investment for Young Agripreneurs Competition, which will be launched in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
Another major project they are currently executing is developing a farmer supported School Feeding Programme with the use of local food. This gives the smallholders farmers a market place and also helps with fighting the persistent regional problem of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, among others within the region.
This initiative is one that will also aid in fighting hunger, promoting education on food sustainability and security as well as contributing to local community development. With the inclusion and support of government, civil society and the private Sector, the necessary support for developing and coordinating school feeding policies should be easy.
The Minister of Education in Guyana, Dr. Roopnarine, and his team spoke of plans to improve the School Feeding Programmes in Guyana. With FAO looking to support the region in this area, it is my hope that he pushes all of his plans into actions and have this be a feature in schools all across the country.
A bigger plus to this initiative would be having kitchen gardens at schools. This will help to draw the youth interest into this lucrative industry of agriculture.
With all of the advancement of technologies and inclusion of ICTs this youth will know that agriculture does not only mean getting messy but Agriculture could be ‘SASSY’. This will open doors for more youth going into the Agriculture field and also for more research and trained individuals in the field.
This initiative has the potential to be very powerful as it tackles at least 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals: Goals 2, 3, 12 and 13. By name, these are Zero Hunger, Good Health and Wealth Being, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.
With the recently concluded IV International Congress on Biodiversity that was hosted in Guyana, and the President’s vision for Guyana’s contribution to the Guiana Shield, the School Feeding Programme, with the inclusion of kitchen gardens, is another great way to promote the importance of agricultural biodiversity.
If there is anything I’m looking forward to most, especially going beyond these discussions, is the School Feeding Programme.
- agricultural biodiveristy
- school feeding
- value chain