As Jamaica plays host to the 35th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean currently ongoing at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in Rose Hall, St. James from March 5 to 8 2018 expectations are high on ways of achieving zero hunger across the region.
The three-day event which has Ministers of Agriculture, Social Development, Education, Health and Environment and other high-level officials from the 33 FAO member nations across the Americas in attendance would focus on four main areas – eradicating hunger, overweight and obesity; ending rural poverty; promoting climate resilient and sustainable agriculture; and creating a new FAO to move towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The participants would also discuss the challenges and matters related to food and agriculture in the region.
The FAO Representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, Dr Gillian Smith, said this year’s staging is particularly important, because the region is at a crossroads in terms of food security.
Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda said the country was happy to be hosting the regional conference.
“I think this is a signal honour to Jamaica, because Jamaica is on the right path, and we have the measures that are important to move agriculture forward in our entire region, we welcome this opportunity, and we look forward to this tremendous exchange where the conference will give all of our colleague agricultural ministers and other very distinguished people from the Caribbean and Latin American region the opportunity to put on the agenda the concerns that they have, the ways in which they are approaching them, the strategies they think can assist, and the extent to which the FAO can be of help,” he said.
Information provided by the FAO indicates that hunger has risen in Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time in decades, reaching 42.5 million, while obesity affects 96 million people.
According to Smith, in addition to the rise in hunger and chronic non-communicable diseases, “climate change is affecting and exacerbating the issues that are related to our agricultural productivity and our production, and affecting the diversity of rural livelihoods that are available to our people”.
She noted that the organisation remains committed to collaborating with the people and the Government of Jamaica to address fundamental issues relating to the country’s national development in the areas of food and nutrition, agriculture, rural development, fisheries, forestry, decent employment and social protection.