ADDRESS DELIVERED BY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, HON. EUGENE HAMILTON, IN OBSERVANCE OF WORLD FOOD DAY, OCTOBER 16, 2018

On this seventy-third anniversary of World Food Day we give honour to the highest for his goodness towards humanity.
While every day of our lives we work towards food security, special focus has been brought today by the United Nations on hunger, and on the millennium goal that promises to achieve zero hunger by 2030.

Embedded in that promise, is the challenge to ensure food availability, affordability and access.

We therefore use this occasion to create awareness about the global objective.

We use the occasion to advocate for the prioritization of selected operations in national development agendas; and we further use the occasion to promote the critical role social protection plays in reinforcing key development outcomes and ensuring the inclusion of all groups of society in development as a means to combat inequality, vulnerability and poverty.

The objectives of World Food Day can be summed up as follows:

  1. Encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end
  1. Encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries
  1. Encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions
  1. Heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world
  1. Promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
  1. Strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.
Where we are today is the result of what we have been thinking and the way we have been doing things and our actions today and tomorrow will have direct and indirect impact on our food and nutrition security.

While prudently conserving today will render an adequate tomorrow, mismanagement of our precious resources such as water, land, inputs, etc will place our future at great risk.

My Ministry is therefore proud of its achievement of its conservation efforts, its work in managing our precious resources, and for delivering adequate, safe and nutritious produce for consumption.

We have achieved a reduction in the use of pesticides from a high of 3.65 kilograms per hectare to 0.31 kilograms per hectare.

Thanks in large measure to our friends from the Republic of China on Taiwan, whose Government partnered with us in establishing The Vegetable, Fruit and Upland Crop Quality and Safety Improvement Project; a partnership that saw the establishment of a Soil Fertility Analysis and Pesticide Residue Detection Lab.

This first of its kind in the region equipped us to conduct testing of our soils as well as the food that we produce. Testing of the soil informs a farmer of the soil content and levels of pesticides thereby helping to avoid over medication.

A further test conducted on the produce itself establishes whether it is good for consumption or not; and I proudly state that we have achieved 99% quality good for consumption. I am confident that we grow the safest food for human consumption
In order for us to enjoy the blessings of good health, proper nutrition and a continued supply of sufficient quality food in a climate change influenced environment where soils are degraded; where production is disrupted by more and more severe and ever changing weather patterns including hurricanes, we have embarked on establishing an early warning system designed to provide data that will benefit producers planners and the general public.

This is being implemented with the support of our friends from the Republic of China on Taiwan. It involves the establishment of three weather stations at Mansion, ECO Park and Boyd’s respectively, where data will be collected in real time and fed it into a local and regional data base as part of an early warning system. This is a data driven initiative providing early warnings in a climate change driven environment so that we can adapt accordingly.

Clearly, as a government we are proactively leading in achieving the development goals and we encourage all stakeholders to engage with us in understanding your responsibility and vigorously exercise that responsibility. As a government we constantly commit to capacity building for stakeholders through workshops, farmer field schools, etc.

To foster cohesion and a good working mechanism in the food and nutrition system, the various players are often brought together around a common table to gather their inputs and to forge an adequate way forward as true partners and owners of our development goals.

With the institution of services such as quarantine, extension, Veterinary, the non-communicable disease campaign, the Bureau of Standards lab, the Soil and pesticide residue analysis, etc, we are ensuring that the highest standards of quality will be maintained in our food and nutrition system.

It is said that we reap what we sow and that is good news for us who sow the good seeds of dedication and efficiency along the production and human value chain.

We are making tremendous strides in the area of agro processing, with various locally elaborated value-added products being made available to consumers. It is an area that promises much hope for development that could create financially independent families. It is an area of growth potential that I must encourage local effort to commercialism as the next wave of in achieving food and nutrition security.

Everything points to successful entrepreneurs for venturing into avenues such as ripened bananas, banana chips, fruit juices, smoothies, preservatives seasoning conserves, etc etc etc.

The competitive servicing of the supply chains offers excellent opportunities especially for young persons to forge viable gains. All of this is boosted by access to resources via grants, projects and many funding mechanisms made available through government directly or in collaboration with our allied agencies and partners.

I therefore encourage all young persons to look beyond the horizon, as there beyond your horizon are opportunities for you to make a difference in ensuring food and nutrition security in the world.

Finally I encourage us all to adopt a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle, endeavour to prepare nutritious meals and work towards achieving Zero Hunger in the world and by your own act share what you have great or small showing compassion to those in need.

Thank you and do enjoy world food day.

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