Agriculture stakeholders placed the spotlight on healthy foods for children during a five-day programme in Brazil that was aimed at strengthening public policy on school feeding in the region.
Representatives from 10 Latin American and Caribbean countries, the CARICOM Secretariat and the University of the West Indies participated in the international technical mission that began on 29 August 2022.
The international technical mission was organised by the trilateral south-south cooperation project Consolidation of School Feeding Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Programme Manager for Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Mr. Shaun Baugh, spoke at the forum on Thursday.
He told participants that food and nutrition security is accorded high priority in CARICOM which is taking steps to ensure that “our children have food”.
He highlighted the Community’s goal to reduce its high food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025.
“There is a saying that says ‘start them right and make them bright’. This is a profound statement for us in the Region. Our children matter and it is our duty to ensure that we create the conditions that will allow them to contribute positively to national and regional development.
“Food and nutrition security is one of the single most important areas for us in the CARICOM region. It has been agreed that this is an area that must remain on the front burner and be given the highest priority at all times,” Mr. Baugh said.
He referenced the World Food Programme CARICOM Livelihood Survey that was recently completed which found that there was a reduction in incomes and purchasing power of household, which, in turn, have caused families to buy less food, and “even more alarming, less nutritious foods.”
He pointed out that “this affects the children and their ability to learn and, if not addressed, “will cause human development and capacity problems for years to come.”
“We have developed some comprehensive agricultural development programmes which will safeguard against this. We are pushing our 25 by 2025 food security . We are grateful for this opportunity to learn and take back possible solutions to our Region that will enhance the overall food and nutrition status of our children,” Mr. Baugh said.
He added that the partnerships and the lessons from the mission in Brazil will be used to enhance sustainable school feeding programmes in the Region.
The school feeding project in Brazil is part of the actions of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme.
It is developed jointly by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ABC/MRE), the National Fund for Educational Development of the Ministry of Education (FNDE/MEC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
SOURCE: CARICOM Today/ SLT