WORLD FOOD DAY 2006
ADDRESS BY THE ACTING MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES, THE HONOURABLE CYPRIAN LANSIQUOT, ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD FOOD DAY, 16TH OCTOBER 2006.
THEME: “INVESTING IN AGRICULTURE FOR FOOD SECURITY:- the whole world will profit”
There are two commodities that the human being absolutely must have to survive, both individually and collectively as a species:- food and water. In recognition of this, governments have always contrived to keep the price of these precious commodities as low as possible so that everyone could have access to them.
Unfortunately however, this is often done without regard to the
impact on the survivability of the individuals who produce and supply the food,
and whose activities have such important consequences for the quality and supply
of our drinking water:- the farmers. Where the impact of such price measures is
recognized and acknowledged efforts are made to offset it by the institution of
subsidies as well as tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.
When you think about it, we can survive without cars, telephones, computers, television, even money. In effect, all of the things we consider important, but without food and water we perish, both as individuals and as a species. Therefore, food and water are much more important and valuable to us than any of these other items.
Meantime, food producers (farmers, fishers and food processors) in many countries are treated with scant respect and are having a hard time even surviving. It is often said that farmers and fishers need to adjust to the new realities, but something is fundamentally wrong with our value system. The impact of an insufficient supply or total lack of food is already being felt in various areas of the globe and is played out right before our eyes by way of television news. Famines in areas such as Sudan and Mali serve as very important examples of what is in store for the human race if food production is not given the status it deserves.
Yet we continue (at our peril) to disregard the importance of food. Isn’t it time we gave food production it’s true importance and place it firmly on the socio-economic landscape of our country? Food production is not just about trade and foreign exchange earnings. It’s about our very survival as a country and a people. There is need for a total re-think of societal values; of our values as a people.
If we recognize the true importance and value of agriculture, then we will in turn recognize the need for sustaining investments in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
This year’s “World Food Day” will be commemorated under the theme “Invest in Agriculture for Food Security: the whole world will profit”.
Investment in agriculture may be divided, for ease of reference, into public and private sector investments.
Public Sector Investment
Over the years, the Government of St. Lucia has invested extensively in the agricultural sector. Some examples of this are:
The objective of public sector investment of course is the creation of an enabling environment for the agricultural sector to thrive and for private sector investments to be profitable.
Private Sector Investment
While the private sector too has invested in agriculture over the years, this has however, been at best sporadic and not nearly to the extent required to sustain the sector and to capture the many opportunities that exist. Some examples of recent private sector investments have been:
Notwithstanding, there is a clear and urgent need for more private sector investment in the sector. In the present context, the private sector includes commercial and financial services sub-sectors and the farmer himself. Mechanisms therefore need to be found to facilitate the farmers’ affordable access to credit, and producer groups developing new business relationships with investors, local or foreign, to further develop the sector.
In an effort to promote agri-business and enterprise development and stimulate opportunities for investment in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will this year be departing from the usual approach of conducting World Food Day activities only around the 16th of October and has instead organized a slate of activities that will culminate just prior to the Cricket World Cup in 2007. These activities include:
The main activities of which I speak are as follows:
Households, schools and chefs on the island will be challenged to develop new recipes or exciting variations of existing recipes using flagship commodities as key components.
The best recipes will compete in the national finals to be held on National Day 2006, the 13th of December. Very attractive prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners on Independence Day 2007, 22nd of February.
For the Grand Finale, professional chefs on the island (selected primarily through the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association) will compete against each other in the preparation of a local dish (a main dish), while bartenders will compete in the preparation of a cocktail. As far as is feasible, locally grown products alone will be used.
An interesting feature of the various competitions will be the team approach, in which chefs, schools and households will be paired with individual farmers and fishers, or groups of farmers, for the supply of the ingredients that will be used in the competing recipes.
In this way new, innovative and marketable ways of preparing foods and delicacies using locally produced commodities are expected to emerge. The farming/rural communities will also benefit by discovering and developing new marketing opportunities for their produce. The expansion of the market for local products will provide opportunities for further investment in the sector.
Schools on the island will be encouraged and assisted in
developing innovative ways to produce flagship commodities in a business
environment that are most suitable and produced in the Extension regions of
which they form part.
Four workshops on agribusiness management will be held to assist farmers in particular to better understand the business side of agriculture. Improved management of agricultural enterprises will assist to enhance their competitiveness.
This will take the form of a “Buy local/Eat local” campaign and will be geared towards increasing the demand for local foods on the domestic market. Public Service Announcements (PSA), advertisements and newspaper articles will be a regular from this month October, to February next year.
Agri-food fetes are activities organized in pairs of adjacent Extension regions in which locally produced agricultural products, recipes containing them and the technology employed in their production or processing, are placed on display, for tasting, testing or buying. Primary schools in the corresponding Extension regions, producers, processors, housewives and chefs will all be featured.
World Food Day is the ideal occasion to recognize and reward the contribution of individuals, businesses, agencies, and staff of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who have had a significant impact on the agricultural sector. To this end, a formal award ceremony recognizing the contribution of these entities to the sector is scheduled for 3rd November 2006.
With these activities the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries expects to help reduce the uncertainty in the sector and help create a
more conducive environment for investments that are so necessary for the future
wellbeing of the sector and our rural and national economy.
I therefore wish to appeal to all citizens in particular our farmers and fishers, private sector services providers, producer organizations and development partners, such as CARDI, IICA, and FAO to join us in celebration of World Food Day 2006. Your contribution to the sector is a tangible manifestation of resource investment, human and otherwise. But there is more to be done as we grapple as a region with the existing and emerging challenges of modern globalization, agri-trade and trade liberalization, limited resources and capacity issues.
I look forward to a successful campaign of food production as we head into cricket world cup 2007 and continue to promote inter-sectoral linkages, in particular agro-tourism.
Do have a business like World Food day and join us in the many celebratory activities seeking to promote agri-business and food security.
I thank you.
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