By Rochelle Williams
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The government is actively pursuing all opportunities to partner with regional and international stakeholders to transform Jamaica’s food sector in a manner that will ensure the country can sustain itself.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, said this paradigm shift is intended to effectively address challenges to food security caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“We are looking carefully at our supply chain systems and logistics generally because we have to ensure that the gap that we have is closed and we can produce for ourselves,” he said, noting that Jamaica’s natural resources and geographic location provides a strategic advantage as a regional and international supplier.
He was addressing the second of the two-day Caribbean Food Security and Safety Sustainability Conference and Summit hosted by The Food Hygiene Bureau at the Medallion Hall Hotel, St Andrew and online.
The summit is being held May 10 and 11 under the theme, ‘Global Impact on Food Security – Caribbean Resilience’.
Noting that rising food prices and supply chain challenges occasioned by the pandemic will be exacerbated by the conflict, he said the government is seeking to change its practices as part of its mandate to achieve self-reliance.
“The continued conflict between Russia and Ukraine has impacted food security for all of us and like the pandemic brings into sharp focus the Caribbean’s heavy reliance on food import and, ultimately, our people’s food security. This is seen not only in availability of some of the food but the cost which countries will have to pay to access these products,” Dr Dunn emphasised.
Dr Dunn also urged every Jamaican to embrace backyard farming and play their part to ensure sustainable food supplies locally.
“The ministry through several of our agencies partners with the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, and [we] are in support of the government’s efforts to ensure that all people, at all times, will have adequate access to safe and nutritious food. This remains a priority area,” the state minister said.
The seminar was comprised of presentations from international and regional industry experts, plenary sessions, workshops, and other networking activities.
It invited the participation of policymakers, scientists, government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), agri-businesses, supply chains, researchers, consumers associations, farmers and scholars.