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Importance of Agriculture to Federation’s food security the focus of World Food Day week of activities

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The current state of the global economy is the leading topic of discussion for much of the world, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shared that their predictions for global growth will decline in 2023.

According to the IMF, global growth is forecast to slow from 6.0 percent in 2021 to 3.2 percent in 2022 and 2.7 percent in 2023, the weakest growth profile since 2001, except for the global financial crisis and the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global inflation is forecast to rise from 4.7 percent in 2021 to 8.8 percent in 2022 and will likely decline to 6.5 percent in 2023 and to 4.1 percent by 2024.

With those projections in mind, coupled with the continued strain on global supply and demand, food security, especially for Small Island Developing States, has never been more pertinent and poignant as the global community will commemorate World Food Day on October 16.

The 2022 World Food Day theme is “Leave NO ONE behind”, and the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Marine Resources will host a week of activities focused on bringing awareness to the need for investment in sustainable food security to meet their mandate of reducing the Federation’s food import bill by 25 percent by 2025.

Chaira Flanders, the head of the Media and Communications Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Marine Resources, in an interview with WINN, said it is essential that the Ministry continues to educate the public on the importance of agriculture.

“We really want people to understand how important agriculture is to any country. And as a developing nation, I feel like there is so much more that we can be doing that we should be doing.”

The week of activity includes a fishing tournament, Primary and Secondary School visits, home garden kit donations, a Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD) exhibition to illustrate the advantages of using the devices to increase fish haul, a Food Heroes Prize Giving Ceremony to award the farmer and fisher of the year and more.

Flander shared some of the highlights for the week of activities, including the incorporation of Breast Cancer Awareness month in a panel discussion.

“This panel discussion is, of course, being held in observance of breast cancer awareness, which is also in the month of October. So we found a way to incorporate breast cancer awareness and our World Food [Day] week of activities with this panel discussion, where we’re going to have the panellists talk about all the ways we can eat healthily and how we can maintain our bodies, not just for breast cancer but also for any other diseases, non-communicable especially. And so, that discussion will have doctors and, of course, a herbalist present as well, to speak with the listening and viewing audience.”

Another highlight is the Food Fair, Cook Off and Rabbit Fest put on by the Ministry and the Sandy Point Agriculture Cooperative Society (SPACS) with the featured produce sweet potato and the featured meat; rabbit.

Flanders admitted that rabbit is an acquired taste but encouraged people to come out and try the meat alternative.

In October 2020, the Inter -American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) introduced rabbit rearing to boost food security in the Federation with a rabbit rearing project that gave participants two rabbits -a male and female- to start.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Flanders indicated that the initial roll-out of the program was negatively affected. The Ministry hopes to use its various initiatives, including World Food Day, to continue the introduction of rabbit meat to the palettes of the Federation.

“We want [people] to get to experience a different taste of meat. And this, of course, all falls in line with our mandate to ensure that we achieve food security because if we really want to achieve food security, that means we can no longer be a narrow-minded people. We have to think outside of the box about the different ways we can get food to eat, and that means we can eat other animals. If you are vegan, it means that you also can be using items or produce that is usually thrown away, use them as agro-processed goods.”

Flanders added, “The pandemic prevented us from rolling out the way that we initially wanted to roll out and introduce the rabbit production, the rabbit meat, more to the general public. This now gives us the opportunity to have persons taste the different [varieties] and to also get to taste the many ways that rabbit can be prepared. So we are expecting to have curry rabbit, BBQ rabbit, grilled rabbit, stewed rabbit, rabbit soup, you name it. So we’re going to have quite the variety of rabbit for persons to taste, and so this is going to be the highlight of that particular event.”

The 2022 World Food Day week of activities on St. Kitts runs from October 15 – 23.

MAKANA FERRY SCHEDULE

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