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… Food and Nutrition policy workshopBy Leonard GildarieAs several local and international experts gather here to come up with ways to tackle food security in the region, Guyana has warned that the time for talks is over and action is needed immediately.With the agriculture sector finding it increasingly difficult to attract young people to lead the industries, the region literally cannot afford to wait anymore in the face of mounting challenges.Local, regional and international experts at the Princess Hotel, yesterday, during the opening session of a two-day workshop on food security in the Caribbean.Speaking to the high level agricultural officials at the Princess Hotel, Providence, yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, stressed that the regional food import bill has dramatically tripled from US$1.5B in 1995 to US$4B, which tells of a growing food insecurity condition.With the global food situation reaching crisis level two years ago, government duly recognised the growing problem which financial institutions are now placing high on their agendas.According to the Minister,Cheap Arizona Diamondbacks Hoodies, natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding have all combined to reverse the gains made over the years.Questioning the future of the food security in the region, the minister noted that there is a window of opportunity now and countries within the region have to grasp it. Challenging the representatives present, Persaud urged that they move quickly from the point of outlining a food policy formulation to actually implementing it.There is need now for action, urgency and result, he said. With all indications that the food situation in the region will only intensify, Persaud felt that the workshop would not be enough. “What is important is that at the end of the workshop,Cheap Jerseys Store, there is recognition of the urgency,” he emphasised.The Minister pointed out the recent case where a government was sent packing because of food shortages and noted that doing nothing is no longer an option.Guyana has so far started taking the initiative and already there is a US$40M Agriculture Diversification project underway to alleviate the dependence on rice and sugar.Echoing earlier statements,Wholesale MLB Jerseys, Minister Persaud also said that Guyana stands ready to supply the region with food.However, he was highly critical of the fact that regional food producers are facing hardships in tapping into markets regionally because of ‘red tape’. The fact is producers are finding ready,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, easier markets in North America, he said.The Minister also noted that while the region is looking at effecting food security, the emphasis should really be self-sufficiency in the food production sector especially when this region is one of the most vulnerable.The two-day workshop is being co-ordinated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).Meanwhile, Ambassador Irwin Larocque, Assistant Secretary General, Regional Trade and Economic Integration, CARICOM Secretariat, noted that a recent FAO meeting in Rome has found that almost 915 million persons were hungry in 2008 with the one billion mark expected by this year.In the Caribbean, one out of every four persons is malnourished. While there has been success in elimination of some amount of poverty in the Caribbean, the reality is that the region still has several pockets of poverty.Fertilizer prices, increased freight costs and increasing demands for biofuels in sugar, maize and palm oil, have all contributed to driving food prices up, he said.FAO Representative in Guyana, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul,Wholesale Stitched Jerseys, said that the situation is indeed a serious one with five children dying from starvation every 30 seconds. This comes at a time when there are boasts of the technological advancements in the world.The FAO official opined that it was not so much of a question of food availability but rather of significant unequal distribution.With Guyana and Belize being the only net food producers in the region, the workshop is seen as a step in the right direction of starting the process to correct the situation.Support to the formulation of a food and nutrition policy for the Caribbean is one of two parts of a key component of a wider food security project “Promoting CARICOM/CARIFORUM Food Security”.The Project is being implemented in the Caribbean by the FAO and is funded by the Government of Italy.Caribbean countries are of the view that by alleviating the key binding constraints to agriculture, and the provision of adequate budgetary support, producers and agriculture policy experts can positively impact on achieving higher levels of food security in their countries and in the region as a whole.The key output of this workshop would be an outline of a course of action and timetable geared to produce,Jerseys NBA Cheap China, implement and fund a Regional Policy for Food and Nutrition Security (RPFNS).
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