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PAHO director: Local fruits underutilized

PAHO director: Local fruits underutilized



The worldwide problem of rising food prices may be a blessing in disguise for the wellness revolution being undertaken in the region.

This is according to Dr Mirta Roses Periago, the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) who earlier this week paid a two-day visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Dr Periago, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, said that as countries are exploring alternative energy sources and others are looking for more oil drilling sites, so, too, she believes, prices and food shortages will drive people back to the land, causing them to look more keenly at their food production.

This, according to Dr Periago, can lead people away from processed foods as they eat more locally produced fresh products.

“Eighty per cent of the food is imported in the Caribbean, particularly all these processed foods and imported fruit juices,” she highlighted, saying that many local fresh fruits are underutilized.

Dr Periago, along with her team, paid courtesy visits to Governor General Sir Frederick Ballentyne, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Louis Straker during her visit.

At a press briefing along with Health Minister Dr Douglas Slater, Dr Periago said that it was important that she visit the various countries and hold discussions on polices dealing with health issues like the continual management of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

During her interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Dr Periago also said that it was important for countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines to make sure that the Wellness Revolution co-exists with tourism development in the country.

She said that with proper management she believes that lands can be allocated for tourism development, but, equally, agriculture can have its place in the developing economy to ensure food safety and to promote healthy eating.

She said that she is also having discussions in some countries with large hotels, encouraging them to utilize some of the lands on their properties for hotel gardens that she believes can help produce some of the fresh products that the chefs can use.

Meanwhile, Dr Douglas Slater said that the official Wellness Revolution Campaign will be launched soon. He said that he has just received a draft of the policy document for the wellness revolution, which was birthed out of consultations with the various stakeholders, which he is currently reviewing.