Unified effort to tackle rising food prices
Caribbean countries to join forces to tackle rising food prices, as the increased costs generate concern about nutrition of the region’s people.
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday July 1, 2011 – Stakeholders at a recent regional meeting to address rising food prices in the Caribbean have called for the establishment of a Regional Technical Working Group on Monitoring and Managing Food Prices, with responsibilities for monitoring global and domestic prices and policies, recommending policy and programme actions and mobilising resources for action on rising food prices.
That was among several recommendations coming out of a Regional Consultation on Policy and Programmatic Actions to Address High Food Prices in the Caribbean, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank and the CARICOM Secretariat.
The recommendations seek to address rising food prices in the short, medium and long term.
FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator Florita Kentish noted that increasingly high food prices were raising concerns about the food and nutrition status of the region’s people.
“This is especially so for vulnerable groups of poor families who constitute approximately 20 percent of the population,” she said.
“The region must, therefore, become more resilient in its response to rising food prices through the adoption of a more proactive approach. This should be based on risk analysis and forecasting, collective utilisation of the region’s resource endowment, aggressive mobilisation of external resources, and exploitation of the opportunities for South-South cooperation,” she added.
The consultation was aimed at addressing the mounting food prices in the Caribbean in light of another food crisis and a real danger of persons in lower socio-economic groups moving from relative to absolute poverty.
Regional countries were urged to strengthen the implementation of praedial larceny best practice legislation to reduce food theft as well as increase investment in the sector.
Countries were also urged to implement the necessary interventions to reduce post-harvest losses, such as increased investment in cold storage and agro-processing facilities and transportation systems.
The meeting also called for a recommitment to the implementation of the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture, which aims to increase agricultural production in the region through the alleviation of key constraints to the sector.
With regard to social solutions, meeting participants called for the strengthening of social safety nets and feeding programmes targeting schools, the physically challenged, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
It was stressed, however, that such programmes should be backed by purchase agreements with domestic producers to further stimulate the development of profitable agricultural enterprises.
Stakeholders further recommended that local foods should be promoted more to reverse the taste and preference for imported food, and that food aid should be monitored and managed given its potential negative impact on domestic production.
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