The following is an address delivered by Hon. Alexis Jeffers, Minister of Agriculture in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), to mark World Food Day observed on October 16, 2019.
Fellow citizens and residents,
I take this opportunity to greet you on the occasion of World Food Day 2019. World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on October 16th in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.
The activities associated with World Food Day provide an opportunity for us here in Nevis to join nations around the World in the fight against hunger. Latest FAO estimates show that nearly 900 million people worldwide live in a state of daily hunger.
Additionally, millions of people, including approximately 6 million children under the age of five, die each year as a result of hunger. They, unlike most of us in Nevis are unable to access food, clean water and low cost medical care.
Here in Nevis, World Food Day is also observed to give citizens and residents a chance to join with people the world over in strengthening the struggle for freedom from hunger, and it also offers us an occasion to highlight the crucial importance of food and agriculture to our people.
As we endeavor to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2, which is to achieve Zero World Hunger by 2030, we are this year observing World Food Day under the theme ”Our Actions are our future: Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World.”
This year’s World Food Day theme is a call to action by all of us to pay close attention to what we feed ourselves, and more importantly what we feed our children. The notion of a healthy diet is one where the food or meals we eat should be balanced and nutritious for our bodies.
Indeed, we are quite aware that we are what we eat and therefore we must ensure that the food we eat provide energy so that we can engage in productive activities, and that our immune system is adequately supported.
Here on Nevis, if our actions are to be sustainable and ultimately contribute to the elimination of world hunger we must ensure that we are producing as much of what we eat as we possibly can. As such, the Department of Agriculture alongside our stakeholders who are our farmers, have sought to improve the quality and quantity of production of meats, fruits and vegetables.
In the area of meat production, we have sought to introduce improved breeds of goats and sheep, improve veterinary care services from our new clinic at Prospect. Establish and strengthen our relationship with the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on St Kitts, introduce intensive farming techniques to our livestock farmers and most importantly, we continue to see major improvements at our Abattoir Division with the introduction of new lines of products to meet the demands of our people.
In the area of fruit and vegetable production, we continue to offer extension services to our crop farmers. We also continue to encourage the establishment of shade house operation and production, the adaptation to climate smart farming techniques, improved food storage capacity, marketing opportunities for our farmers along with agro-processing options for surplus food.
This year’s theme and its emphasis on healthy diets also highlight the need for meaningful and sustained collaboration in realizing common goals across government ministries. As such, the Ministry of Agriculture is extremely pleased to partner with the Ministry of Health, to host a number of activities to mark the observance of World Food Day 2019.
The message therefore, from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health is for us to adapt ourselves to sensible diet choices.
These choices require that we do the following:
– Eat plenty fresh fruits and vegetables daily and add more legumes, nuts and whole grain to our diet. Legumes and nuts are a great source of plant base protein.
– Minimize the consumption of industrially processed foods and drinks high in saturated fats sugar and salt. Limit the consumption of meat and animal base products.
– Diversify your diet to include as much traditional and locally grown foods as possible, and also find creative ways to incorporate these locally grown products into our various recipes.
– Consume more fish and fish products since they are an excellent source of protein, vitamin, minerals and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid. However, citizens and residents are encouraged to eat fish species that are available in abundance rather than those that are at risk of being overfished.
If we truly want to add years to our life and life to our years, a dedicated effort to adjust or change our life style or the way we live can make a huge difference in the quality of life we would have for years to come.
As we prepare to celebrate World Food Day on Wednesday 16th October 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture has planned a week of activities to mark this event. On Sunday 13th October the staff at the Ministry and Department of Agriculture worshipped at the United Pentecostal Church in Marion Heights.
– Monday 14th October is dubbed Local Dish Day at selected restaurants.
– Tuesday 15th October will see the hosting of a Nutrition Seminar
– Wednesday 16th October is World Food Day. Persons from the Department of Agriculture will use the opportunity to visit the various schools on the Island to make presentations during their morning devotion session. Additionally, members of staff from the Department will undertake the distribution of pins to the general public which has the Department of Agriculture buy local logo inscribed on them.
– Thursday 17th October is dubbed ‘Healthy Eating Day’ island wide, and the general public is encouraged to try the local dishes which will be served by various restaurants throughout the island.
– Friday 18th October will see an Agri Chef Master Class competition at the Charlestown Waterfront apron starting at 2 p.m. Persons from our Agro Processing Unit will be there selling a wide variety of smoothies and healthy snacks.
In closing, and as we celebrate World Food Day 2019, let us pledge to make every effort to ensure that our actions are in line with ensuring that we all have a good future. Let us all ensure that we are consuming healthy foods and let us support efforts aimed at assisting our less fortunate and the more vulnerable in our communities. Let us all join in the effort to bring about Zero World hunger. Moreover, let us all continue to eat more of what we grow and grow more of what we eat.
Happy World Food Day to all and may God Almighty continue to guide, bless and protect us all as a people and as an island.