KINGSTON, Jamaica – On World Food Day, October 20, the focus will be on the millions of people worldwide who cannot afford a healthy diet, and the need for regular access to nutritious food.
Jamaica will join the rest of the world in observing the Day, and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, said local celebrations will centre around a National Ceremony and Exhibition at the Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Clarendon.
“This ceremony is being hosted by the collaborative efforts of the Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, under the theme ‘Leave No one Behind: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all’,” he said.
The Minister emphasised that the Government is working to foster increased access in the sector, through the existing Production Incentive Programme, and opportunities through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). “Through RADA we have given 5,000 farmers up to one acre each of land preparation, free of cost. We are also working with the UN Women’s Group and the Women farmers of Jamaica to increase the number of women in agriculture and to build capacity of these persons,” he said.
The Minister also noted that the Government has incorporated an element of the National Grow Smart Eat Smart Programme in schools. “This, through our partnership with the Budding Farmers Initiative, which has been rolled out in schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, Charles Jr said the next activity under the Grow Smart Eat Smart Programme will be the launch of an islandwide tour of events.
These events will focus on promoting the initiative in collaboration with portfolio agencies, including the Jamaica Agricultural Society.
“We aim to promote and educate the various stakeholders of the programme. Jamaicans can also participate through starting their own backyard gardens, using container farming if they live in a home with a patio or a high-rise set-up. Churches, schools and anyone with some space at home or work can also plant their own gardens,” the Minister said. Charles Jr is also encouraging Jamaicans to purchase and eat more fresh produce and to incorporate the options provided by farmers and fishers, in their diets.
“Our indigenous produce has several nutritional benefits, and a diet, including more of these fresh fruits and vegetables, can assist with alleviating some non-communicable diseases. There is also the Tilapia campaign under way to encourage the population to incorporate more of this protein in their diet,” he said.
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