; geared at improving overall health status through agri. practices
; pilot project to create a model for national program
The Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Region Four’s Regional Democratic Council Health Department, today launched the Guyana Re-aligning Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health (‘GRAIN-H’) program.
The program, which was launched at the Herdmanston’s Lodge, was developed to help improve the physical, psychosocial, and cultural health status of residents in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) through the use of sustainable domestic agricultural practices.
Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, with responsibility for Rural Affairs, Valerie Adams-Yearwood, in delivering the keynote said that the Ministry welcomed the convergence of ideas to address the objectives of the agriculture and health sectors.
“Programs of this nature are a clear demonstration of the sound and cogent direction that government has set out for the development of this country. We continue to see sectors recognizing that such collaborations allow for the achievement of unique successes that will benefit all Guyanese. This effort is a true primary health care initiative, where participants would be taught to view food as their medicine in terms of both its nutritional content, as well as how it is prepared and consumed to ensure it was healthy,” Minister Adams-Yearwood said.
The program’s pilot project, which is expected to conclude in December 2019, will target persons registered at the 31 Health Centres in Region Four, more specifically members of the non-communicable disease (NCD), geriatric and ante-natal clinics.
The Ministry of Public Health, will be given technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture to establish demonstration kitchen garden plots at each health center participating in the project
Minister Adams-Yearwood also stated that even with the adoption of beneficial technologies and practices in large scale agriculture efforts, practices such as kitchen gardening still hold a great level of importance.
“We have also been examining ways of making a return to the glory days of having kitchen garden in every home, to supplement not only the household’s food purchase needs, but also to speak towards the growth of much needed nutritional inputs in a sustainable manner, regardless of where you live,” Minister Adams-Yearwood said.
Recognizing the link between the health and agriculture sectors and how initiatives like this can, over time, impact the way government develop policies and allocates resources, ‘GRAIN-H’ is will also provide participants with the necessary information and skills to procure, grow and consume appropriate diets.
Region Four’s Regional Health Officer, Dr. Quincy Jones, while offering remarks said that the program was also hopes to fill the identifiable gaps in the average nutrient balance in meals currently prepared and consumed.
“Nutritional problems broadly fall into two categories, those resulting from insufficient intake relative to nutritional needs and those resulting from excessive and unbalanced intake of food. In Guyana, the principal problem is the second group, notwithstanding insufficient intake relative to nutritional needs is still a real challenge. Such behavioural change would improve family food supplies and more efficient use of home grown and locally available foods,” Dr. Jones said.
A baseline health profile will be generated for each participant, identifying their nutritional needs. Additionally, participants will be thought the necessary guidelines on how to maintain balanced diets and proper food preparation techniques.