(by Nazima Raghubir)
“We spend an inordinate amount of money on diseases based on improper diet.”
Guyana’s Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy relayed the above while speaking to media workers at a workshop on Inclusive Evidence –Based Coverage of Agriculture and Rural Development Issues yesterday Friday. The Former Health Minister was making a point that puts agriculture as the major catalyst that could change the nutritional intake and eventually improve the health of persons living in the Caribbean.
This has placed the From Farm to Fork: Improving Nutrition in the Caribbean Project at a much needed advantage. The Project being led by researchers from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and the McGill University in Canada and has been tackling poor nutrition with the aim of reducing obesity by using and promoting locally produced agriculture.
In a release, the International Development Research Centre explained that the limited attention paid to local food production has created a “high dependence” on the importation of “high calorie, low nutrition foods”.
This, the centre believes, has “created a paradox of obesity and poor nutrition, which threatens people’s health throughout the region”.
There have been results according to the IDRC. “Children in Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis are receiving improved school meals that contain vegetables and fruit produced by local farmers”. Research has also been carried out in Guyana and St. Lucia.
To this end, the researchers are expected to discuss the project as well as results of it as the stakeholders across the Region meet in Guyana for Caribbean Week of Agriculture “Linking the Caribbean for Regional Food and Nutrition Security and Rural Development”.
NOTE: The project is funded under the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF), a CA$124 million program that supports partnerships between Canadian and developing-country researchers. This is to mainly increase food security through applied research in agriculture and nutrition.