|50M facing hunger across Latin America and the Caribbean||| Print ||
|Written by Kwesi Isles|
|Thursday, 12 July 2012 18:53|
Regional experts are meeting in Georgetown to hash out plans to reverse malnutrition and starvation said to be affecting more than 50 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean.
The three-day Sixth Meeting of the Working Group of the “Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative opened on Thursday under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The initiative is a commitment made by the countries and organisations of the region, with support from the FAO, to create the conditions to permanently eradicate hunger by 2025.
"The truth is that while the world has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and starvation pockets of poverty and starvation still exist around the world. In our own region there are about 52.5 million people who face serious food security problems,” Guyana's Agriculture Minister and chairman of the proceedings Dr. Leslie Ramsammy stated.
He added that Latin America and the Caribbean possessed the capacity to eliminate poverty and starvation but there were various drivers contributing to the perpetuation of food insecurity. Growing populations, changing consumption patterns, growing demand for meats and increasing water and land scarcity he listed as some of those factors.
The now ever-present boogieman climate change also made the minister’s list as well as inequitable trade regimes and the lack of funding to drive agriculture research. According to him, the meeting must reaffirm the commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, commit to eliminate the pockets of poverty and hunger by 2025 and ensure that with a global population reaching nine billion by 2050, the region could produce food for its people and meet global demand.
“We will have to do so with the utilisation of crop production methods that must sustain the environment, preserve natural resources, avoid crisis-like food price jumps similar to those experienced in 2008, whiles maintaining good financial returns for farmers.
Sustainable agriculture intensification will not be achieved unless we have a considerable increase of publicly funded agriculture research through a cross-disciplinary science in food security,” Dr. Ramsammy posited.
He added that unless investment in agriculture is maintained at a reasonable level they will not achieve the goals they have for the sector.
Delivering the feature address Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar, who has lead responsibility for agriculture within the CARICOM bloc, said food security must become a regional imperative.
“I urge the continued dismantling of obstacles, especially the non-tariff barriers to the trade in agricultural produce so that we can devote more of our resources towards feeding our people and in the process reducing our exposure to external shocks in food prices,” Ramotar said.
However, the Guyanese leader noted that there could be no one model for all the countries and they would each have to fashion the poverty reduction strategies suited to their realities.The meeting will examine the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan for the Caribbean; identify new challenges to the Initiative, member country strategies and break up into sub-groups to consider new approaches towards achieving the goal of ending hunger in the hemisphere.
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