NIA CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS (October 16, 2018) – The following is an address by Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) on the occasion of World Food Day on October 16, 2018..
The Ministry of Agriculture is pleased to join with United Nations member countries in the observance of World Food Day 2018. This year as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) pushes toward a zero hunger world by 2030, the theme ‘Our Actions are Our Future’ causes us to assess our current behaviour, as undoubtedly, our decisions affect us and generations ahead.
We are just over a decade away from 2030, and if we are going to be serious about ensuing that every person on the planet is free from hunger we have to start now.
For the past few years, the Ministry has pushed an agenda of food security, which is also in keeping with this global objective. Food security looks at our ability to produce food at the local level and create a level of independence. This seeks to ensure that we can survive external shocks, which impact both economic and social sectors.
Our continued positive actions to this end, would safeguard our islands and region so that every man woman and child has access to food. The Ministry of Agriculture has also taken this step, not only to make sure that there is food but also the food is safe and nutritious.
The Ministry of Agriculture on Nevis frequently partners with and supports activities in the Ministries of Health and Education. We recognise that these sectors are critical to the broad base success of food and nutrition security in our nation.
Additionally, we continue to facilitate the growth of school gardens and shade houses, as seen at the Charlestown Primary School and the Chef Academy Programme from the Ministry of Health, in which creative dishes are made from locally produced items. These are just two programmes which showcase how we are working to be sustainable in our food production.
Over the last year, with the help of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the Ministry was able to acquire farm machinery including two tractors and a backhoe which will enable us to make our work easier and assists farmers with land preparation for planting and producing.
Our Extension staff have undergone training, exposing them to a variety of issues ranging including soil fertility, pests and disease identification, the study of weather patterns as well as various protected agriculture applications.
We are aware that our behaviour and actions are often determined by the best information we have and as such, we are constantly seeking to be in a position to make the most informed decisions.
As we seek to achieve zero hunger by 2030, we continue to urge our farmers to get involved in protected agriculture, which guarantees the production of more food using fewer resources.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation suggests that the growing world population is expected to reach 9 billion in 2050, as such farmers should find new and more productive ways to farm food and diversify their crops.
Using an integrated farming approach will not only help farmers increase their crops’ yield, and consequently their profits, but can also improve the quality of their farm land. In Nevis, we are well ahead of this recommendation and are now focusing on intensive farming for meat production. This type of farming not only produces more meat but it allows for a better quality.
The general public also has to buy into this effort so as to ensure that we can all have nutritious meals on a daily basis. We realise that life is fast-paced and as such finding time to prepare nutritious meals can be a challenge if one does not know how. But nutritious meals don’t have to be elaborate. In reality, they can be cooked in a quick and easy way using only a few ingredients.
Therefore, we are all encouraged to share our quick nutritious recipes with our families, friends, colleagues and online. You may also want to follow chefs and bloggers online, to learn new recipes or talk to your local farmer to see how they cook their produce at home.
Additionally, we urge you to not waste food. If you have leftovers, freeze them for later or use them as an ingredient in another meal. When you eat at a restaurant, ask for half a portion if you’re not feeling too hungry, or take your leftovers home.
Sharing is an important aspect of achieving the zero hunger goal. There are persons who are less fortunate than we are and when we have excess, we should adopt a more brotherly and sisterly approach to living and providing for others rather than discarding or dumping.
As we observe the activities this week, I remind you of the theme – ‘Our Actions are Our Future.’ The activities being organised by the Department of Agriculture, will highlight our actions on the island of Nevis to achieve zero hunger before 2030.
During our week of celebrations from October 14th to the 19th the general public is invited to participate and become aware of what takes place in agriculture.
The week began with a church service, where we asked for God’s continued blessings.
We are also commissioning an aquaculture project at Prospect. This project shows a closed production system in which fish and plants are produced in a symbiotic relationship. The objective is to demonstrate one of the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s goals to produce more with less. Funding for the aquaculture system is provided by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the FAO.
On World Food Day Tuesday October 16th, please look for the Department of Agriculture’s staff who will be at your favourite supermarkets offering samples of locally produced food from our Agro Processing Unit and our Abattoir. This activity is to ensure that our people know what is available locally and how healthy and delicious locally produced foods can be.
During the week we will commission the new processing wing of the government’s Abattoir. This will be a special day for us. This project was required due to the local demand for our processed meat products, including sausages, burger patties, ground beef, specialty cuts and smoked products.
Another highlight of the week is a food fair at the Charlestown Market which will serve as a culmination of the week of activities. Fruits and vegetables as well as meat at very attractive prices will be available for sale, and also tasty lunch options.
So we encourage the general public to participate, and also to learn what they can do to end world hunger by 2030.
The Ministry of Agriculture takes its goal of food and nutrition security very seriously, and this is reflected in our investments in the sector, as well as the engagement with allied agencies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan), FAO, CARDI and IICA.
We continue to commit to feeding our people with the best quality foods, and to support related agencies to ensure that our people are healthy and productive as we strive to build a strong nation.
I therefore take pleasure in wishing the entire island of Nevis a successful World Food Day 2018. Let us all commit to making a difference in ways that would make our island’s food system much more secured for many years to come.
Thank you. May God continue to bless us all.