“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” ― Ann Wigmore
Nutrition is therefore very important for the well-being of the citizens of any nation. Both the Private Sector and Civil Society are a big portion of most economies and therefore can play a major role in influencing the nutritional standards of a country. In this comment we intend to tackle the ‘Policy Issues’ portion of this discussion, specifically the first question, in relation to our local economy (Guyana, South America) where possible.
· What role can the private sector and civil society play in designing and implementing policies that make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-enhancing?
Currently in Guyana, we are on track with the MDG Goal 1 – Eradicate Extreme Poverty and hunger. According to the United Nations Development Website, “Guyana has made good progress towards eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. The country has met the target of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, and has improved its performance in reducing poverty and increasing employment.” Using this as an indicator on the nutritional well-being of the citizens of our country we appear to be doing well overall. Guyana being an agriculture based economy is fortunate to have access to many resources that would allow proper nutritional well-being. Combining our rich agricultural resources along with advances in agricultural technology we are able to produce more organic goods that have far higher nutritional content relative to other countries.
The private sector’s interest should be providing the goods and services that meet the demands of society. For an agricultural company, it will be essential for them to provide products and services for farmers to improve their yields as well as food quality. Private sector companies increase their profits, by helping farmers increase their income and also reduce food shortages.
The private sector’s role in designing and implementing policies is analyzing the society’s needs. Hiring professional Analysts to survey society’s preferences gives the private sector’s policy makers meaningful contributions to design policies. Funding research and development for nutritious products preferred by society.
Civil society work closely with the public (persons who will be benefiting from the policy) and can therefore influence the public to adapt to policy objectives. Civil society needs specific skills such as independent monitoring and promoting accountability to make contributions to the policy design. By gathering first hand information from the general public, they can provide vital information as to what is needed under a series of policy advocacy workshops. Civil society should increase the awareness of the importance of nutritional foods to the public via meetings, campaigns among others, as it empowers local communities to benefit from the outcomes of policies.
United Nations Development Programme. Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger. 2012. http://www.undp.org.gy/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=... (accessed September 12, 2013).
 (United Nations Development Programme 2012)
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Earlier FSN Forum ICN2 discussions: