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Addressing food issues

FAO’s Country Coordinator J.R. Deep Ford meets with Minister Maxine McClean.

FAO’s Country Coordinator J.R. Deep Ford meets with Minister Maxine McClean.

A fresh attempt will be made by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to tackle the region’s food security issues by addressing the high food import bill, praedial larceny and having cassava as a fuel alternative.

The FAO’s Country Coordinator for the Caribbean sub-region, J.R. Deep Ford, threw out these suggestions as possible solutions to safeguarding the safety of the sector, during a courtesy call on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean at the ministry’s Culloden Road, St. Michael, office.

He said in the past, the organisation had placed significant emphasis on agriculture, but that focus within the last two years had been shifted to food in light of the world’s concerns about food security, climate change and high food prices.

Deep Ford also mentioned the need to create more links to move the relationship from one of established connections with ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Culture and Natural Resources, to include the ministries of Health, Education and Social Transformation.

“External relations are not only necessary to bring us together but, they also link us to the rest of the world. We have a number of new donor countries who are very interested in the food issue and it’s those linkages that we want to explore because this [signals] their entry into our region,” he added.

The FAO coordinator also hinted at the creation of a committee at the director level within the various ministries, to bring together experts in health, education, social transformation and agriculture, to discuss the food import bill within the context of World Trade Organisation regulations; the food import bill and health, its impact on snack foods and the fast food industry; and the food import bill and its effect and education.

McClean agreed with this approach to the issue and noted: “Key ministries must participate in the decision making because it allows you to flesh out a comprehensive approach to the issue and come up with a set of solutions without replicating the efforts. So, I like that approach and I certainly will support it.”

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