To commemorate this occasion and to heighten public awareness, with respect to our food and nutrition security, the Department of Agriculture has organized a week of activities, under this year’s theme, “Food Prices-from Crisis to Stability”.
The celebrations were launched with a food fair in Sandy Point on Saturday followed on Sunday 16th October with a Church Service.
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Timothy Harris opened the celebration in a nation-wide address, where he stated that this year’s theme acknowledges the volatility of the global food situation, and in particular that we are facing a crisis and an inflationary spiral of world food prices.
He said this food crisis has seen 925 million people suffering from malnutrition, with 70 million of these being pulled into the ranks of the hungry over the last year. To stabilize prices we must attend to the demand and supply variables, said the minister. In the medium term, an increase in food supply would be the best panacea to the rising food prices, continued Harris.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, Harris explained that we remain committed to increase the production of selected items of fish, fruits and vegetables, as part of our efforts to enhance food security and nutrition, alleviate poverty, increase jobs and incomes and generate wealth across the food chain.
As the efforts continue to generate food security, Harris commended fishers of St. Kitts and Nevis for their credible performance between January and August 2011, when compared to the similar period last year.
He said the production of vegetables and fruits increased by 6%, from 2.1 million pounds in January to August 2010, to 2.24 million over the comparative period in 2011. Egg production meantime increased by 10 percent from 2.7 million eggs to 2.9 million achieved in 2011.
However there was a decline in livestock production by 11% from 263, 340 pounds in 2010 to 234, 366 pounds from January to August. Fish landings though had a dramatic increase by 27% from 394,271 pounds in 2010 (Jan-Aug), to 500, 241 pounds, bringing income of 5.1 million to our fishers versus 3.8 million in the comparative period in 2010. A 30% increase in snappers caught accounted for this significant improvement in the performance by the fishing sub-sector.
The Agriculture Minister said his ministry is encouraged by these results and will continue to lend support to the farming and fishing communities and the country at large. This support would manifest itself in various ways said Harris, including, investing in agricultural technology; and development of Green Houses and Water Shed Management Systems. At least three Green Houses will be provided by his Ministry while 2 others are to be made available to secondary school students who are pursuing agriculture.
The Ministry will also promote increased breadfruit and rabbit production; develop the gear shop at the Fisheries Complex to make the equipment more readily available and at more economical prices. The 4th course of action said Harris would be to sponsor and support ongoing training for capacity building for both fishers and farmers.
Other measures include mobilizing the stakeholder community such as CARDI, ROC and FAO to provide technical assistance and support to our farmers and fishers and extension officers. The government also wants to encourage the establishment of farmer support groups, co-operatives and associations, to provide solidarity and support and effective organization by our farmers and fishers.
Other courses of action are to improve marketing support and infrastructure and to assist farmers in the costing of their produce.
“We have learnt that the seeds of the global volatility in food prices lay in our collective failure to invest consistently in research, technology and infrastructure,” said Harris. That is why his Ministry is pursuing these new actions.
We cannot continue to under-fund agriculture while demand efficacious results, argued the minister.
All these measures must be backed by real resources because this is the only way to achieve food security and food nutrition imperatives we have set ourselves, stated Harris.
World Food Day has been celebrated by member countries of the FAO for the past 31 years.