Ensuring food security and nutrition – a multi-faceted challenge: Trinidad and Tobago

Rice being sold at the Pontsonde market on the banks of the Artibonite River, Haiti.

A warning that the number of people affected by the global food crisis would continue to grow unless measures were taken to resolve it. Representatives of UN Member States attributed the food crisis to price speculation, climate change, low investment in agriculture, unfair trade regulations and the lack of social safety nets. During discussion on Agriculture Development and Food Security in the General Assemblys Economic and Financial Committee, speakers called for greater international attention to the 13.5 million famine-affected people in the Horn of Africa, many of them women and children. Many representatives also stressed the importance of emergency food aid and relief, emphasizing at the same time the vital need for long-term strategies. Trinidad and Tobago's Representative Ruenna Haynes said the issue of agriculture, development and food security has been described as a complex sustainable development issue.

Ruenna Haynes: Ensuring the food security and nutrition of our people faces us with a multi-faceted challenge which demands appropriate policy responses and investment at the national, regional and international levels. As a designated net food-importing developing country, Trinidad and Tobago is one of many developing countries which are highly vulnerable to external shocks in international agricultural markets which result in upward trends in global food prices; price volatility, and ultimately, high inflation levels and food insecurity. This high dependency on food imports is compounded by low food production capacity and the fact that even locally produced food commodities depend to a large extent on raw or semi-processed imported inputs. The government's efforts to address poverty and food insecurity and to manage an increasingly high food import bill with resulting inflationary pressures include: collaboration with international and regional agencies such as Food and Agriculture Organization; the International Cocoa and Coffee Organization; the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the Caribbean Agricultural research and Development Institute, on joint projects and programmes geared toward research and capacity building in agricultural development; the development of a National Campaign to promote food security; the development of a National Food and Nutrition Security Policy based on the CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy.

According to Ms. Haynes, the global food crisis which began in 2007, and the effects of which continue unabated in many countries demonstrated the importance of coordinated action at the international, national and regional levels.

Ruenna Haynes: Trinidad and Tobago wishes to underscore the important role of the multilateral system in assisting member States to focus and coordinate their efforts to achieve global food security. As such we reiterate our commitment to the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and call for a successful conclusion of the Doha development round of negotiations within the World Trade Organization which will take account of the needs of developing countries in seeking to develop sustainable agricultural sectors and ensure food security for their citizens. Trinidad and Tobago is mindful of the need for a coherent and non-duplicative approach to global governance structures and approaches for addressing food security. A key institution in the coordination of the global approach to food security is the Committee on World Food Security which has bee reformed with the vision of creating the most inclusive international and multi-stakeholder platform for cooperation in ensuring food security and nutrition for all.

 Ms. Haynes concluded that agriculture development and food security requires enhanced global governance as a complement to national efforts.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’35″

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