World Food Day Message from Minister of Agriculture Moses Jn. Baptiste.
WORLD Food Day (WFD) is observed in more than 150 countries around the globe and is celebrated on October 16 every year. The date coincides with the founding anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization the FAO – the UN’s leading group battling the “eternal struggle” against hunger and malnutrition.
This global event is designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed year-around action to alleviate hunger. Issues relating to poverty, nutrition and unemployment are usually highlighted during a week of consultations and review worldwide.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day celebration is “Social Protection and Agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty”. Social protection is a blend of policies, programmes and interventions that aim at protecting poor and food-insecure people and to lift them out of poverty and hunger. Being food-secure means that we must always be able to get the food we need for an active and healthy life. This year’s WFD puts the spotlight on the connection between hunger and enhancing agriculture through social protection towards zero poverty.
Here in Saint Lucia social protection programmes have been established for many years and continue to benefit those who require support.
Our on-farm labour support programme continues to provide farmers with assistance at the farm management and production levels. As a result of that intervention farmers who have received support recorded increase in yields and accompanying increase incomes. Their families benefit from the impact of the assistance by way of availability of financial resources to purchase household necessities, materials for school and food.
A significant number of farmers, fishers and members of our cooperatives receive assistance through programmes that target the vulnerable. Parents of children who are challenged receive assistance for the purchase of school books, uniforms and for the payment of school fees. All those programmes allow our people to manage the risks involved as they navigate their roles producing food, maintaining rural stability and reducing poverty.
The government of Saint Lucia will continue to provide social protection to our vulnerable citizens. Agricultural producers, who reside in the rural communities and inner city areas, will continue to be specifically targeted as they will be required to continue to produce food.
Schools will continue to receive special attention through our Improved School Feeding Programme where schools are being connected to farmers in a more sustainable relationship.
Aside from all the social protection programmes, this year’s celebration seeks to gather multi-sector support towards agricultural food production; encourage cooperation among developing countries towards food security; increase the participation of rural residents in policies that directly affect their lives; and further strengthen international solidarity against food insecurity.
We must continue to work together to make sure hunger is recognized as a critical problem, and to ensure that our beloved country will be able to face all the challenges and be victorious.
I wish our most valued farmers, fishers and agriculturists in general a productive World Food Day 2015. To all our beloved citizens and visitors, I hope you had a fun-filled day, as you joined the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Production, Fisheries, Cooperatives and Rural Development and the international community in celebrating World Food Day 2015.
All the best and success in all your endeavours and let’s continue to highlight the importance of social protection in ending poverty and food insecurity around the world.