Wide range of issues affecting agriculture and food security discussed

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 05, 2013; KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – Ministers of Government, officials from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean, IICA, and CAFAN, this afternoon concluded a two-day conference on food and agriculture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The discussions over the past two-days centered on Governance for Agricultural Development and Food and Nutrition Security, as the threat faced by small island states over food security is becoming more daunting.

The issues discussed included Challenges to Good Governance for Food Security and Nutrition in the OECS; Governance that achieves Food and Nutrition Security, Governance Challenges for implementing Food and Nutrition Security Strategies in the OECS; Challenges on Parliamentary Democracy in the Caribbean and Good Governance; Instruments and Mechanisms to address broad Governance for Food and Nutrition Security in the OECS; and Experiences of Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Other issues discussed were Strategy to implement the A&B Declaration and forging a Parliamentary Front in the OECS and Caribbean States, The Parliamentary Front against Hunger Mechanism for Governance on Food and Nutrition Security, and Forging Governance on Food Nutrition and Security in the OECS States.

However, there was one very critical issue that the delegates addressed; an issue, which can influence the outcome of the programme. How can commitment are built at the OECS Ministerial level, for the implementation of the Action Plan of Agriculture (APOA.)

In making his presentation, Minister of Agriculture for St. Vincent and the Grenadines Saboto Caesar, outlined that there is a need to build sustainability and continuity in the implementation of the APOA across governments.

The recommendation is that within one year, the OECS undertake the responsibility to utilize the OECS General Assembly (government and opposition), and build common commitments through non-partisan committees.

Minister Caesar also stated that in order to build coalitions, so there will be greater support for the APOA, Governments should within six months; establish a Cabinet Sub-committee on Food and Agriculture at the national level.

Additionally, both the public and private sector along with civil society establish multi-sectoral, multi-institutional committees and that Government develop and implement public awareness, advocacy, and sensitization programmes among key constituents/stakeholders. Both of these actions should be implemented within six months.
The Vincentian Agriculture Minister also called for the demonstration of the opportunity cost and consequences of not implementing the APOA to key stakeholders.

To achieve this, there should be the preparation of justification document with clear targets tied to the budgetary timeline, with the same document to be submitted to the Ministers and Heads of Government Meetings for decision-making.
The islands should establish clear goals and or targets to demonstrate the importance of good governance, such as Saint Lucia have done with the development of a national food plan. (Robertson S. Henry/robertsons.henry@gmail.com)

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