The Action Plan has been approved by the Council for Trade and Economic Development!

Opening Note: Online Consultation on the CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) 2012 - 2016

Welcome to the Online Consultation on the CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) which opens on August 2nd and continues until September 15th.

CARICOM, assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), recently completed a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (RFNSP)  designed to secure the provision of “... safe, adequate, nutritious and affordable food for the region’s inhabitants at all times, thereby achieving food and nutrition security”. A Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) is currently being developed to implement the RFNSP.

This online consultation based on the draft RFNSAP seeks to gather the views and inputs of key regional civil society partners in order to refine the strategies and actions proposed to address the objectives of the Regional Policy. I invite you to read the draft Action Plan and provide your comments and suggestions. Your views on whether it is an adequate framework for achieving regional food and nutrition security are very important. A summary of this online discussion will be incorporated in the finalized RFNSAP.

The following questions are a guide to stimulate, and not limit, the discussion.

Guiding questions

  1. Do you consider that the draft RFNSAP adequately identifies and deals with the key concerns affecting regional food and nutrition security? If not, what specific suggestions would you propose?
  2. How would implementation of the strategies and actions of the RFNSAP influence the activities of your organization?
  3. Implementation is often a challenge with regional and national plans. What are your views about the implementation arrangements proposed in the RFNSAP? Are there missing elements. If so, please identify.
  4. Are you satisfied with the role identified for civil society in the RFNSAP? If not, what specific ideas do you have?

I wish to thank you in advance for participating in this consultation. The feedback provided will be highly valued in the finalization of the RFNSAP.

I look forward to constructive, interesting and rich discussions.

Winston R. Rudder – Facilitator

Comments received

Total comments: 27

Winston R. Rudder

CARICOM, assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, has been pleased to host this online consultation on the CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) 2012 – 2016, from August 2nd to September 15th. Over the period, 15 contributions were received from concerned individuals and organizations, 13 of which are located within the Caribbean sub-region. It was particularly heartening to engage two organizations based in Haiti. The intent to recruit the participation of regional CSOs was partially satisfied by the contributions of the Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (BANGO), the Caribbean Farmers’ Network (CaFAN), the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Agriculture and Nutrition Inc. The discussion was also enriched by comments from national and regional institutions and from individuals from academia and the private sector. As we formally bring the e-Consultation to a close, I take the opportunity to express deep appreciation to all contributors for the time and effort taken to review and comment on the draft RFNSAP. This is to assure that the contributions were shared with the drafters and will be considered in finalizing the RFNSAP. A final draft will emerge from a Validation Workshop being held from September 19th to 21st, 2011. In pioneering the application of novel technologies to elicit broad-based participation across the sub-region on an important development issue, CARICOM and FAO have demonstrated the scope for utilizing such approaches in the future. Permit me then to give thanks also to our silent partners at FAO headquarters who provided invaluable support and guidance in planning, organizing and moderating this exercise. Winston R. Rudder - Facilitator

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:50 am

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Norman, The supportive contribution of CARDI, the premier regional institution for agricultural research and development, to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP is much appreciated. These extensive comments will be raised and discussed at the Validation Workshop to be held in Barbados from September 19 – 21, 2011. The confirmation of CARDI’s commitment to play an expanded role, in strategic alliance with key national and regional partners, to ensure success of this critical undertaking aimed at promoting regional food and nutrition security is welcome. It is particularly reassuring to note the many areas identified for CARDI, as a provider of knowledge and technology derived from agricultural research, to effect improvements in agricultural productivity. In addition, there can be no disagreement with the views expressed about the importance of stakeholder involvement in setting priorities for the research agenda and the need to strengthen linkages across the stakeholder divide and foster robust multi-stakeholder processes for the generation, diffusion and application of knowledge. Your observation on the importance of securing the link between research and policy for the success of this enterprise cannot be over-emphasized. For, as indicated, ownership by policy makers is crucial for ensuring sustainability of initiatives and impacts and ultimately the livelihoods of CARICOM citizens. Thanks once again for your participation in this e-Consultation. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:49 am

Norman Gibson

The Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) is a much needed framework and instrument for improving the nutritional status of people in the CARICOM area. CARDI is fully cognisant of the expanded role that it must play in working with national and regional partners to ensure the success of this critical initiative. We are particularly mindful of the following action proposals (Action Programmes 1.3 and 1.4) contained within the plan, which we support completely: Action Programme 1.3: Promote closer collaboration to accelerate the transfer and adoption of new technologies. Activity 1.3.1: Promote the adoption of new technologies. Activity 1.3.2: Promote collaborative research and technology transfer in agricultural and food products. Activity 1.3.3: Strengthen regional networks for agricultural research, outreach and development. Activity 1.3.4: Support initiatives to promote greater access to land and water resources, agricultural inputs and capital, particularly among small-scale farmers, to support food production. Activity 1.3.5: Strengthen development of agricultural cooperatives and farmers' organisations to enhance their resilience. Action Programme 1.4: Promote agricultural innovation through CARDI and national agricultural research institutions, including research and development on improving productivity and agricultural production (possibly with assistance from Brazil-EMBRAPA). In this regard, CARDI fully endorses the absolute need for the promotion of science, technology and innovation as key determinants of success in the agri-food sector and indeed, national and regional economic development. There are, however, a few additions that might be considered: 1. Traditional knowledge – the development of mechanisms to harness the wealth of information known sometimes only to people in specific locales within the region but which can impact food and nutrition security. Especially in relation to health and wellness. In this regard, the medicinal value of some foods (functional foods) is indicated 2. Farmer innovation – Very similar to traditional knowledge except this is information gleaned by farmers through experimentation and often passed along to other farmers but which may never make it into formal research circles. This may have implications for the commercialisation of technologies that may be more near-market than those coming from research centres. This too must be harnessed, especially since research has shown that farmers get a great deal of their information, on which they base production decisions, from other farmers. 3. Youth engagement – the action plan does address youth participation in the value chain, inter alia, however, we believe that youth engagement must go beyond the traditional boundaries. There must be the genuine belief that youth are part of the solution to the many problems facing the sector, therefore their involvement must also include policy development and formulation and the use of ICTs to transform the sector to the extent that there is a certain level of self-organisation. Youth forums that generate ideas and new thought to shape policy for the new agriculture must be seriously pursued and encouraged. It cannot be event oriented but must be part of a coherent long-term process that is credible and sustainable. 4. The emphasis on strengthening producer groups is noted and endorsed. CARDI recognises that stakeholder engagement is a vital component of prioritising the research agenda. Additionally, the way in which stakeholders relate to each other (strength of linkages) is also a strong indicator of the potential for innovation and innovative behaviour. In this regard, the fostering of strong multi-stakeholder processes that are designed to encourage the generation, diffusion and application of knowledge requires strategic promotion. It is therefore not entirely sufficient to strengthen farmer organisations without building corresponding mechanisms for the various groupings to work together towards a common objective. The Food and nutrition security policy provides that common objective around which stakeholders can gather to promote the sector. 5. CARDI’s role as a provider of knowledge and technology derived from agricultural research is pivotal in this strategy. However, there must be an increasing emphasis on using these products to engage policy makers so that there is shared ownership of the interventions in the sector that have been mutually agreed. Unless there is ownership by policy makers at the start of the process (programme/project development), it is highly unlikely that the results would be sustainable in terms of their impacts on the peoples of the CARICOM area. In this regard, the role of CARDI as a CARICOM organisation intrinsically involved in the building of evidence-based platforms upon which national and regional agricultural policy can be built, must be given careful consideration. The marriage of research and policy must be consummated in an environment that allows for the greatest impact, when it comes to improving lives and livelihoods.

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:46 am

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Lennox, Thanks for your kind comments on what has been a joint CARICOM-FAO initiative supported by many within the regional stakeholder community. This is a work in progress which is expected to be finalized at a Validation Workshop to be held in Barbados from September 19 -21, 2011. The focus on the Food and Nutrition Security linkage is quite deliberate and is intended to address precisely the concern you have raised - the need for a holistic, balanced approach to the multi-faceted issues involved, inclusive of the impact of fiscal, trade and related socio-economic policies on health and life styles. Sorry if the presentation in this regard seems confusing. This will be examined in finalizing the document. Please be assured that your observations on the time horizon for the Action Plan; the structure of the document and clear recommendations for the role of CSOs as a vehicle for rural transformation, education and advocacy will definitely be raised and discussed at the proposed Validation Workshop. Equally well received are the comments on bio-diversity, the chemical payload in the food chain and concern about ensuring a farm ecosystem supportive of sustainable agriculture.. On behalf of the sponsors of this e-Consultation, I take the opportunity to express deep appreciation for your very insightful contribution. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:34 am

Lennox D. Lampkin

Dear Mr Rudder, Let me begin by commending you for the effort so far. Food or Nutrition Security? In my view the conversation on food and nutrition is often confusing. If we should focus on nutrition security we would address food but in the process will be forced to be balanced in our recommendations. We ought to be aware by now that food and poor lifestyle habits is what is killing many of us in the Caribbean. Our policies and habits do not reflect what we publicly proclaim and our fiscal regime is also not in line with the rhetoric. Duration of the plan? One would expect a strategic vision to go beyond the typical life of a political term (5 years). It is ironic that this plan seems to follow that line of thinking... In my view such a plan should span at least a decade as we all know the time it takes before we get things moving in the region. The plan should in my view be revised to 2025! Structure/Form and organisation of the document: Maybe the document should be in two (2) volumes: The Policy framework could be separated from the Action Plan.. as this would make for easier reading and clarity. e.g : Volume 1: the Policy Framework component : -- pg 5-7, pg 8 sec 3.5 & Page 10/11 sect 3.15 Volume 2: The Strategic Framework & Action Plan: (a) Implementation & Management issues (b) Communication renamed Communication and Networking or Public Education & Networking. Defined Role of Chambers of Agriculture & Nutrition: In the Document there should be a role for Chambers of Agriculture & Nutrition as a vehicle for rural transformation, education and advocacy. Bio Diversity/food sovereignty: We are proposing a regional seed bank to preserve our indigenous bio diversity and documentation on the nutritional value of our local fruits and vegetables. Chemical free food/Regional chemical register: There is a need to address the chemical payload in the food chain and therefore it is incumbent on the authorities to have in place a regional chemical register and a system of tracing and testing of soils and ground water for chemical residues and heavy metals. Oversight by CROSQ may be considered. Farm Eco system: There should be a role for pollinating agents and livestock that provide manure that is low in chemical residue and micro organisms. In this light Bees and Rabbits could be strongly considered. For your information and Guidance Lennox D. Lampkin Chairman SVG Chamber of Agriculture & Nutrition Inc.

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:33 am

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Mr Murphy, Your contribution on the RFNSAP is deeply appreciated. This is to assure that the issues raised therein will be considered during the Validation Workshop in Barbados September 19 – 21, 2011 where the Action Plan will be finalized for presentation to the official organs of CARICOM. We are grateful for the observation on the data sets needed for better inter-country comparative analysis of the situation and conditions across the CARICOM region to facilitate a more complete and common understanding of the range of interventions required for addressing the daunting challenge of regional food and nutrition security. Indeed, this would be particularly critical for elaborating the detailed activities to be undertaken at country level and would accommodate for the heterogeneity of circumstances existing across the region. In this regard, the insights provided about Haiti, and the special and differential conditions prevailing there, are extremely useful. Your comment on the issue of food utilization highlights the issue of the difference - others observed that there was over concentration on under-nutrition – again pointing clearly to the need for specific national-level strategies to be developed within the broad framework of the RFNSAP. Once more please accept our sincere gratitude for taking the time to review and respond to the draft RFNSAP. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 19.09.2011 10:17 am

Emmet Murphy

Colleagues, I would like to thank CARICOM and FAO for this initiative to invite practioners to comment on the action plan. I just sent my detailed comments on the plan under separate cover to a colleague at FAO. My overarching comment on the document is that there needs to be much more distinction about the economic variances and general conditions between the countries within the CARICOM region. I would suggest that the first part of the document provide a general overview of the countries with GDP rates, health indicators, perhaps how they stack up against each other, etc, simply because it is difficult to compare some of the countries. In a country such as Haiti where I am involved in food security programming, many of the key constraints are different and this country has a longer path to attain some of these goals and more significant investment will be required. Moreover, some of the statements made do not apply to all locations. I would also like to see more reference to source documents, studies completed related to food security, agricultural production, nutritional surveys. There are a wealth of resources available here in Haiti, and I imagine it would be similar in other countries. I believe that the incorporation of this data could show the variances more succinctly to paint the broader picture and target the resources accordingly, such as the value chain approach noted. The constraints to value chains will vary significantly by country. The Food Utilization section has an overemphasis on obesity. While this may be a problem in the more developed countries of CARICOM, the term "utilization" in food deficit countries such as Haiti has a much different connotation. For example, we implement nutrition education programs through as USAID Title II funded program in Haiti which promotes kitchen vegetable gardens by providing seeds and inputs and agric training through field-based agricultural extension agents. The trainings stress the importance of dietary diversity, but keeping in mind that increasing protein intake may be difficult for poor households. Nonetheless, training emphasizes how such households can identify a variety of food sources to have a more balanced diet. Good luck with the finalization of this process. Regards, Emmet Murphy Chief of Party ACDI/VOCA Haiti

Posted on 16.09.2011 10:18 am

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Dr. Wilson, This is to express appreciation for your studied, supportive comments on the RFNSAP. Your observations on the strategies influencing consumer behavior and the relationship between income and food and nutrition insecurity are very helpful. The issue about “rurality” and markets is taken and the misconception created will be corrected. Given your comment, there may be need to be more explicit about the influence and impact of global events and affairs on regional food and nutrition security and to emphasize more clearly that sustainability underpins every facet of the strategies and actions proposed. Once more I thank you for making time to share these points. May I remind that the e-Consultation is extended to September 15, 2011 and any further comments you may have are welcome. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 07.09.2011 10:55 am

Marisa Wilson

Colleagues, I am very impressed by this plan and its thoroughness. There are only a few points I would like to make. The first is geared towards the goal of creating an interface between the policy and implementing institutions on the one hand, and 'civil society' on the other. It involves taking heed to the recent shift from an information-led strategy for changing consumer behaviour to a focus-group strategy, which takes the daily preoccupations, habits and practical reasonings of individuals seriously. The idea is that giving consumers brochures and feeding them information otherwise is not enough to change their behaviour. The focus group strategy has worked for local food movements elsewhere (e.g. Britain, the US), and may work in understanding consumers' perceptions in the Caribbean. Of course, all of this could come under the market research/consultation sections of the plan. A related issue is the assumption that creeps up in various sections of the document that there is a one-to-one relationship between food insecurity and poverty. Just from spending time with people in Trinidad and Tobago (the economic conditions of other islands are of course very different), I have come to notice that those 'classes' with the least amount of money often consume the healthiest foods (bought from the market, for example), while 'middle classes' consume convenience foods (i.e. KFC), which are not usually the healthiest option. I agree with Mr. Greene from CAFAN (of which I am a member) that it is important to overturn the idea of rurality and markets as 'backward'. It is important to have specific projects to modernise rural areas and agricultural markets so as to make them appealing to wealthier classes. Going to the market could be a leisurely activity for families and couples – raw foods may be sold side-by-side with prepared foods and other local delights in a clean, ordered and comfortable environment, one which may draw in people with enticing smells, for example. I would have also liked an explicit section dealing with external policies that constrain the effectiveness of this regional policy. What are the limits (and possibilities?) of food and nutrition security given Caribbean countries’ position in the WTO? How do regional policies that uphold the interests of the US (e.g. NAFTA) affect the policy outcomes? Given the constraints of these external policies on the effectiveness of RFNSP, we must uncover the spaces and loopholes in which local and regional value chains may thrive. Finally, I am not seeing an explicit reference to sustainable agricultural production in the document. Even if we establish modern value chains with high-tech solutions, there is still the issue of dependency on imports such as seeds and chemicals. While the policy does take this issue on board, I would have liked to see more sections on actual alternatives to industrial inputs and imported feeds and how governments will help such initiatives get off the ground. Regards, Dr. Marisa Wilson

Posted on 06.09.2011 9:19 am

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Mr. Mathieu, This is to acknowledge with appreciation your detailed comments on the RFNSAP. Your contribution raised the demographic issue, linkage between environmental protection and sustainability of productive capacity, the gender dimension of food and nutrition security and better understanding of the “Right to Food” concept as matters requiring fuller treatment in the development of the RFNSAP. We are grateful for these and your other insights which will be drawn to the attention of the drafters. Please note that we have extended the e-Consultation to September 15, 2011.Accordingly, we therefore look forward to any further contribution to the discussions from yourself or colleagues within the CSO community in Haiti. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 05.09.2011 12:42 pm
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