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I think the comments so far have been very interesting.
Several diverse comments.
In the Caribbean there seems, I may be wrong, not to be many food distribution services industry policies and development except in response to rising food prices. Supermarket penetration is increasing and their share of local (and imported) fruit and vegetable sales is increasing. But I sense that there is a role for more purposeful development of public infrastructure in fresh markets that can provide fresh local nutritious foods (tropical roots, fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meats) possibly at lower prices to villages and towns .. as well as road side commuting community. I know of several markets in Jamaica, for example, where the public sector had provided road side rapid-markets where the commuting public can buy local foods as well as fresh fruit and vegetables (especially those which are local).
See the link to the report: “An assessment of the agri-food distribution services industry in CARICOM” http://www.acp-eu-trade.org/library/files/Best_EN_011106_CRNM_Assessment-of-the-Agri-food-Distribution-Services-Industry-CARICOM.pdf
The fast food issue. We can’t get away from it. In the 1980s the store with the greatest turnover in the world was in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, which at that time had a population of around 1m people. Fried chicken, fries and coke!!! Recently a fast food outlet from Latin America introduced a menu that addressed the interest in consumers for improved nutrition .. grilled meats, fish soup, steamed cassava, boiled/ stewed black beans, steamed sweet corn, fresh salads ..... AND the minister of Food Production stepped in to encourage (public sector insistence) that they purchase locally produced sweet potato chips which is a step in the right direction (I would prefer if they were baked). Policy makers though trade measures, investment incentives, sharing improved nutrition formats to potential investors, consumer education programs and moral suasion can influence the options and choices that consumers make and link the fast food sector more closely with domestic value chains serving value added versions of traditionally healthy foods.
Local content policy. The government is one of the largest single procurement of food through its school feeding and institutional procurement programmes. In some countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, this is amplified since the government owns (the physical assets) of the three largest companies and sends most government business there. Also since governments are also major share holders in other entities airlines, natural resource extraction company, together with their own direct purchases, they can important direct purchasing and indirect purchasing influence of the domestic and regional (CARICOM) procurement strategies. Now this already happens in developed countries, but now the Trinidad and Tobago private sector is arguing for a domestic local purchasing strategy and in food they are linking this to good nutrition (fresh as opposed to two year old frozen chicken way past their sell by date, fresh eggs as opposed to dried powdered eggs, local milk, local roots, fruits and vegetable, etc). And development support from the Government to transform local healthy products to meet the needs of modern consumers and distribution formats.
Some ideas for you to throw into the good policies for good nutrition pot ... !!!
This is a very interesting set of questions.
Let me add another dimension which addresses another dimension of food security .. the ability to earn income from indigenous foods.
In much of the Caribbean (CARICOM) incomes are growing so most of our countries are no longer low income. And as incomes grow, urbanization quickens, more women work and access to international communication grows tastes and food eating patterns are changing. Women don’t have the time to cook indigenous foods and young people are more interested in international fast food and snacks.
So the food import bill is growing, not of foods which compete with our foods and less is being bought from our farmers in rural communities. The challenge is how to transform the indigenous food preparation and cooking processes into one that meets the needs of urban consumers. The Trinidad and Tobago Agribusiness Association has addressed this by processing tropical roots (and other F&V) into frozen, cubed, packaged and branded product which urban house wife and young people who no longer can select quality roots in the fresh markets can conveniently purchase together with their groceries. Also they have introduced dried root crops into mixed flour breads. See http://www.ttaba.com/products.htm Based on this increased demand they are able to increase volumes with contract farmers.
In addition, indigenous foods create a powerful platform for branding especially for exports as is seen in Jamaican pepper and jerk sauces which are leading the explosive growth of ethnic foods in the UK and creating a demand for raw peppers in the rural communities of Jamaica.
So improving the productivity of preparing indigenous food in households but by extension in SME processing operations can be an important way of improving food security, in rural households, urban households and through exports, increase the demand for local products from farming communities.
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