Barbados will soon have food production zones across the island.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, said this afternoon that such zones would contribute to the needs of small farmers.
Speaking on this country’s draft Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan during the opening of a National Seminar on Food and Nutrition Security at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, Estwick said the key to unleashing the full potential of small holders, was the establishment of food production zones at specific locations around Barbados.
The minister said Government was currently working on this initiative.
“We are looking to make sure that these food production zones are going to be community-driven,” he continued.
Estwick pointed out that the Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan was inspired by a consensus in Barbados for a systematic approach or strategies for ensuring adequate levels national and household foods and nutrition security.
“Additionally, our awareness has been made even greater by our rapid dietary and epidemiological transitions,” asserted the Cabinet member.
He reported that such transitions had caused nutritionists to observe a shift from foods based on indigenous staples to a more varied energy-dense diet of processed foods as well as beverages high in salt, sugar, oils, fats and alcohol.
“We’ve also noticed a proliferation of nutrition-related chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases and cancer. And without a doubt, these have replaced malnutrition and infectious diseases as our major public health concerns.”
Estwick argued that unbalanced diets and a sedentary lifestyle have also served to increase the prevalence of such chronic non-communicable diseases within Barbados and the rest of the region.
In addition to these challenges, he said Barbadians were conditioned to give more active consideration to the combination of increases in the price of fuel and the effect of climate change and the increased intensity and density of natural disasters.
“Positively, there is now a trend towards investing in agriculture as an engine for economic development. It involves not only increased Government spending on agriculture and infrastructural inputs, but also encourages private sector inputs,” declared Estwick.
Minister of Health, John Boyce, who also spoke at the seminar, pledged his ministry’s full backing for the proposed action plan.
Boyce suggested that while Barbados had escaped the level of poverty which obtained in some other larger countries, one still had to be vigilant to the internal and external threats to food security.
He said the global economic downturn had created a worrying trend, where more and more people had been unable to access safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for daily living. This, he reasoned, was further exacerbated by changes in tastes. “Our tasks therefore includes vigilance and the promotion of a continuous educational thrust to guide our people in exercising healthier choices,” Boyce advised. (EJ)