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Re: From economic growth to food security and better nutrition

EconomistViews On-The-Go University of Guyana, Guyana

Hello everyone.

Considering the first question, close emphasis was placed in examining the strategies used by the Government of Guyana in their quest to improve the Agriculture Production in Guyana. Over the years several constraints to the Agriculture Sector have been recognized and highlighted and as such programmes have been developed. Firstly, in 2010 the “Guyana Food and Nutrition Strategy” was developed. This strategy is as a result of joint collaboration between the Government of Guyana and key agencies and aim at generally promoting short term development strategies so as to ensure availability and access to food and nutrition especially to vulnerable groups such as women and children. 
In 2008, shortly after the rise in world food prices the Government of Guyana lauched the “Grow more Food Campaign”. This campaign basically provides initiative and encouragement to every Guyanese to strive to be self-sufficient by employing simple means such as having a basic kitchen garden at home. Initiatives employed in this strategy included the distribution of a variety of seeds and agricultural supplies necessary to further self-sufficiency. Added to this, there are also numerous other projects developed under the Grow More Campaign which includes the “Rural Enterprise and Agriculture Development (READ)” which is basically providing support in the form of Equipment, technology and in some cases micro financing. Another project launched in 2009 was the “Agricultural Export Diversification Programme (ADP)” which seeks to increase exports of food from Guyana and to decrease instability within the Agriculture Sector. It focused on the increase of non-traditional agriculture in 3 areas- Aquaculture, Livestock and Fruits and Vegetable”.  This Initiative seeks to improved the Agriculture Export Environment and Facilitation; health and food safety practices including Internationa Best Practices in Sanitary Practices improved Drainage and Irrigation Mechanisms and generally create an enabling enivornment that will promote Agricultural Exporting.  The Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP) is another such project implemented in 2009 which focus on development of agriculture in rural areas. Also in 2009 the Ministry of Agriculture launched the Rice and Beans Project which targeted the increase in rice and beans production in hinterland communities. The Rice and Beans Project’s main objective is to ensure food security in communities which are often remotely located and as such prone to food insecurities. 
Can you tell us about policies that led to better nutritional status as a result of investment into agriculture?

The goal of food security related policies should seek to assist smallholder farmers be more productive, with the larger goal of reducing poverty and to ensure that all have the nutrition they require for a healthy life. It should be recognized that combating under nutrition requires assistance from many sectors, as well as agriculture. The agricultural sector can make certain that rural families have access to more food as well as a wider variety of nutritious foods.

Increased agricultural productivity can improve nutrition in many ways. At the societal level, agricultural productivity growth results in greater food availability and lower real food prices. At the smallholder farm level, productivity growth increases rural income and food availability, which enables improvements in diet. Nutrition interventions, such as the promotion of breastfeeding, in turn, ensure that increased income and food availability at the farm level are translated into better nutrition for the whole household. Nutrition interventions delivered through the agricultural sector--such as distribution of improved sweet potato varieties that are high in Vitamin A, can further strengthen the linkages between increasing agricultural production, and improving nutrition outcomes for the most nutritionally vulnerable—women and young children. This concept is increasingly at the heart of renewed efforts to make agricultural policies and programs “nutrition-sensitive.” 
Ballayram (2007) explains that some of the main health problems prevalent today are as a result of poor diets and in order to diminish this occurrence a more multi-sectorial approach is warranted. More so, Nutrition needs to be included as a dimension in poverty reduction with appropriate policies and strategies to counter the adverse effects. A variety of policy issues including land tenure, education, research and development, infrastructure, climate change adaptation and fiscal and monetary regulations may affect investment in the Agriculture Sector. For instance, as our colleagues highlighted above, Guyana has embarked on several programmes and strategies in promotion
The challenge is to improve the availability of nutritious foods and the eating habit of the varied population. In efforts to promote and increase investments within the Agro- Sector, the Government of Guyana have put policies and laws in place to offer investors numerous incentives for investing within the sector. The incentives available to investors for the Agriculture Sector includes waivers of Duty and VAT on wide range of machinery and equipment for land preparation and cultivation, vehicles to be used, agro-processing equipment, importation of agro-chemicals, outboard engines etc. Moreover, organisations such as the Guyana Office for Investment and the Guyana Marketing Corporation was establish to provide the necessary assistance to investors in an attempt to make the investment process simpler.