World Food Day to be observed October 15th

Minister for Argiculture, Larry Cartwright.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is mandated to raise levels of nutrition globally, improve agricultural productivity worldwide, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.

In the spirit of this mission, therefore, FAO has determined to set aside a day in the month of October to celebrate the efforts of mankind on the whole to produce adequate supplies of nutritious food for the global population and to highlight the achievements in ensuring that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

This year, World Food Day in The Bahamas will be observed on Saturday, October 15 and the theme chosen by FAO is “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability”.

As we all know, one of the components of the current world economic crisis is rising and unstable food prices.

And here in The Bahamas, our reaction to food price volatility has been to produce more food and to market food more efficiently.

In 2008 we embarked on an Initiative for Soaring Food Prices, where planting material for food crops such as sweet potato, cassava and beans were distributed to farmers throughout the country, so as to boost production, increase supply and dampen price increases.

This year, therefore, my Ministry will showcase national efforts at food production and marketing by organizing a mini-fair at the Research Centre on Gladstone Road, here in New Providence, on Saturday October 15.

As regards our efforts to improve the effectiveness of the marketing of agricultural produce, the regular Farmers Market will run all day from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm providing a backdrop for the day’s events.  We extend an invitation to all those who are involved in food production, whether it be crops or livestock, whether as a commercial enterprise or as a hobby, to contact our office and for information on how to participate.

Later in the morning, at nine o’clock, we will showcase our efforts at enhancing food production by hosting a Backyard Gardening session that will be open to the public at large, to provide technical information on producing highly nutritious fruits and vegetables at low cost around the home.

As many are well aware, we have been running these backyard garden sessions for several years now with tremendous success; and we continue to encourage householders to engage in this wholesome and economically prudent activity.

Within the context of this year’s theme, “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability”, the production of foodstuffs around the home is an activity that my Ministry will continue to encourage and support.

As is our usual practice, we are attempting to engage as many of our youths as possible in this whole aspect of increased awareness and capacity in food production.  A number of schools will be participating in the ceremonies with presentations in song, dance and drama; and the Royal Bahamas Police Band will be providing live music.

In addition, FAO has organized a global School Essay Competition around tis year’s theme and our students here in The Bahamas have already begun drafting their compositions which I am confident can compete globally and win a prize.

Rising food prices are one of the main factors contributing to hunger and malnutrition and my Ministry has focused on the need to involve other agencies and institutions in the community in this war on hunger and malnutrition. In this regard we are pleased to announce that “Hands for Hunger” is partnering with the Ministry in distributing food items to various charitable organizations.

The Official Ceremony, which will commence at 12:30, will feature a policy statement on our efforts to combat rising and unstable food prices.