Acting Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, says the Government is promoting increased production of nutritious foods through initiatives such as the agro-parks programme.
The move, he said, is in keeping with efforts to ensure the country’s food and nutrition security.
The Minister was addressing the recent launch of the Government’s Inter-Ministerial Integrated School Feeding Programme at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in New Kingston.
He informed that under the agro-parks programme, priority commodities will be selected in promotion of a nutritionally balanced diet.
“We do so cognizant that good nutrition is important for the physical, social and mental development of individuals…especially…for children in the formative years, as poor health, coupled with poor nutrition, diminishes their cognitive development,” he said.
He said that cost-efficiency of value-added production for locally produced and imported semi-processed foods and livestock products, and the improvement of food safety systems, are also paramount.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kellier said a policy framework and enabling environment are critical in eradicating hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition, “as reflected in the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Strategic Objective.”
“This policy framework and enabling environment must also address low food production and high dependency on food imports, which combine to confront Jamaica with a high food import bill, and worrying food security vulnerability to external shocks and climate change, as experienced by us in our recent droughts,” he added.
The Inter-Ministerial Integrated School Feeding Programme, titled: ‘Strengthening of School Feeding Programmes in the Framework of Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger 2025 Initiative’, aims to strengthen the Government’s existing school feeding programme.
It involves collaboration among the Ministries of Health; Agriculture and Fisheries; and Education, with support from the Government of Brazil, off whose programme the local initiative is being modeled, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Over 300,000 students are expected to benefit under the project, which will be formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed by the major stakeholders.