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SVG, FAO sign off on US$300,000 initiative

SVG, FAO sign off on US$300,000 initiative

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The Vincentian government and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have signed off on a US$300,000 project to support the implementation of selective activities of the national Zero Hunger Initiative Action Plan.

Speaking at the project’s signing ceremony at the Ministry of Agriculture’s conference room on Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation Saboto Caesar said the country is working steadfastly to ensure that these important initiatives are carried out.{{more}}

According to Caesar, the Government started to sow the seeds for the initiative three years ago and since then, the country has received an award from FAO, recognizing all the successes in its efforts to reduce hunger and undernourishment in SVG.

Caesar said it is the policy of the Government to not have a partisan approach, but instead to forge an alliance with the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the establishment of a parliamentary front against hunger and undernourishment.

He further disclosed that SVG is the only English speaking territory in the Caribbean that has gone to Parliament to establish a parliamentary front.

“We are happy to champion the cause of the creation of a home grown articulation of what a parliamentary front should do from Caribbean perspective,” the minister said.

Caesar noted that the Government would soon participate in a conference in which other ministers of agriculture from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states would be meeting in Trinidad and Tobago to establish an indigenous infrastructure.

He said the Government’s aim is to have as many Caribbean islands establish similar parliamentary fronts.

“This is going to put in place the framework for us to work with other countries to seek assistance and partnership, not only in the Caribbean, but also in Latin America and very soon we should be reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Africa, as we work to forge a global alliance to fight against hunger and undernourishment,” Caesar added.

He noted that the Government made a quantum leap in their quest to reduce hunger and undernourishment in SVG when they established the Zero Hunger Trust Fund.

The Minister mentioned that a “mechanism” had been put in place for deductions from the telecommunication companies to be placed into this fund so that it can be sustained.

Caesar was speaking of the levy of two per cent on mobile telephone calls and international calls, estimated to raise $2.7 million annually, which was introduced in the 2016 Budget.

He added the signing off of the project with the FAO is an added commitment that both sides would continue their important partnership to bring this “vexing” problem to an end.

Also speaking at the ceremony, United Nations FAO coordinator of the Caribbean region Dr Deep Ford said that the Vincentian Government has demonstrated the political will and has translated that will into practice over the years.

“So, it is well recognized that they are a good partner and therefore FAO works and comes to the table with additional resources to contribute to the national efforts,” he added.

Ford said that PAO hopes, through the project, to see further improved public policy that goes a step below legislation where they might focus on things like public purchasing and labelling so as to advise the communities about better food choices.

“If through this project we’re able to have better public policy, we’re able to target the most undernourished and bring them out of that situation, and if we’re able to establish long life food choices and food systems that are rooted in the utilization of domestic resources this project would be very successful,” he said.

The FAO representative said it is very important that coordination and communication must be in place within the governmental framework in order to lead the project.(AS)

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