Posted on

World Food Day – We all need to do more


Fri, Oct 17, 2014

Yesterday, October 16, the nation joined in the global observation of World Food Day, which was first established in 1981 by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

This year’s theme – ‘Family Farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth’ – is a pertinent one; especially here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as people increasingly shift away from working within the agricultural sector and into the more ‘glamorous’ ones.{{more}}

Over the past few years, more and more persons have been complaining about the decreasing availability of fresh, locally sourced produce in the market and the various supermarkets. And not only are the complaints about quantity, but also variety and quality.

According to the FAO director general José Graziano da Silva: “Throughout the world, family farmers play a crucial socio-economic, environmental and cultural role which, amid serious challenges, needs to be cherished and strengthened through innovation.”

This is very true, however, one hand cannot clap. Our government can only do so much to seduce the younger generation back into the agricultural sector. They also need to recognize its importance to them and future generations, and get involved.

St Vincent and the Grenadines is blessed with fertile soil, and we should be taking advantage of this. Produce that can be grown here should not have to be imported. How many times have you dined at a restaurant, only to be disappointed when your dish contains pre-packaged vegetables?

Buying local not only ensures that your food comes from a trusted source, but also gives tourists a taste of our culture. After all, why travel abroad only to eat the same produce that is available to you at home?

Agriculture is also an excellent means for self-employment. Individuals are not only in full control of how much they earn, they also provide employment for others.

It is important, also, to acknowledge those who wish to farm but cannot through lack of land. There are countless plots of uncultivated land owned privately and by the Crown. Perhaps a ‘land bank’ initiative can be forged where those who are in need of land can lease from those who own. Both parties benefit.

And if large-scale farming is not your cup of tea, kitchen gardening may be a better fit. As well as providing for your household, you can supplement your income by selling to neighbours and/or co-workers – without threatening the livelihoods of large-scale farmers.

The expectation is not that every Vincentian will turn to agriculture as a means of income; rather that more persons will get involved. The sector is undeniably stagnant at present, and an influx of new persons will not only increase earnings but also introduce new ideas, and reinvent old ones.

If done right, this thrust to promote family farming will create an atmosphere of inclusion that keeps future generations interested in the sector, and ensures food security for Vincentians for decades to come.