Stakeholders look at framework for food and nutrition security.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture today hosted a national stakeholder consultation on strengthening the governance framework for Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) in Guyana.

The event which was held at Cara Lodge, was aimed at gathering inputs from stakeholders for the study on governance for food security in Guyana and to share with them the preliminary findings of the Inception Report on Governance for Food and Nutrition Security in Guyana. It was also aimed at establishing a technical working group to support the work of the consultant.

FAO’s, Country Representative to Guyana, Reuben Robertson, highlighted the need for the framework noting that it is an important element in the process to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 2 which speaks to the elimination of under nutrition, food and nutrition insecurity by 2030. This he says “requires the involvement of all at the national level.”

Robertson pointed out that the achievement of food and nutrition insecurity is dependent on the four pillars; food availability, access, utilisation and sustainability.

Meanwhile Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, George Jarvis in his remarks highlighted what Guyana has been doing. “Guyana recognises a large section of the population depend on agriculture for food and income, this has led to the government continuously increasing investments in agriculture, expanding safety nets and social assistance programmes and enhancing job creating activities for both rural and urban citizens,” he said.

Jarvis noted that there was a food, fuel and finance crisis in 2007-2008 which lead to an economic down turn in 2009 and by 2011 there were high food prices. Those factors combined to drive 44 million persons into poverty and so it is very important to examine food security interventions worldwide.

“Commitments were taken in this direction in 2009 at a summit. 2010 saw the first decline in the number of nourished people in the world after approximately 15 years. That number dropped to 925 million from 1.023 billion the previous year,” Jarvis said.

The Guyana Food and Nutrition Strategy 2011-2020 was developed and officially launched in 2011. Its aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of all citizens and enhance food security. The Ministry has been working to effectively implement this strategy through various initiatives.

The Permanent Secretary further stressed the importance of nutrition in daily diets. “Many of us in Guyana take food for granted and do not consider nutrition…you eat because you hungry and that’s it,” he said.

According to Jarvis, the Ministry would like to use the forum to resuscitate or reactivate the council and shortly thereafter invite all the heads for the various agencies, bodies, ministries and agencies to sit and continue the work that was started in 2011.

Representatives from various Ministries, The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and United Nation’s Agencies were among the participants.