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

Gary Mathieu

Au nom de la Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire, je salue l’initiative de doter la Région Caraïbes d’un Plan Régional pur la Sécurité Alimentaire et Nutritionnelle Réponse 1. Je crois que certains aspects clés concernant la sécurité alimentaire de la Région ont été ignorés : 1. La question démographique. Les taux d’accroissement démographique sont assez élevés dans la Région, cela pourrait nuire au développement de l’Agriculture, a la maitrise des programmes devant faciliter l’accessibilité des ménages aux biens alimentaires et surtout nuire `a la gestion des terres productives 2. La question environnementale n’est pas assez développée. Ils perçoivent l’environnement dans un contexte de changement climatique et de gestion des désastres naturels mais rien n’est dit sur les programme de protection de l’environnement dans un contexte de faciliter la stabilité des capacités productives 3. La gestion des crise alimentaires soit dues aux catastrophes naturelles ou `a l’augmentation des prix n’est pas approfondie et développé 4. L’aspect genre n’est pas abordé alors qu’il est crucial pour certains pays comme Haiti ou la République dominicaine 5. L’éducation devrait être un axe important et transversal 6. Le Droit `a l’alimentation est abordé mais rien n’est dit sur l’atterrissage de ce concept si complexe 7. Pourquoi pas une politique stratégique qui rejoint les objectifs de l’Initiative Amérique latine et Caraïbes Sans Faim en 2025 avec des actualisations chaque 2 ou 3 ans. Ainsi on aurait eu un plan de 14 ans avec des actualisations périodiques 8. Pas de propositions concrètes pour une politique fiscales et commerciales devant faciliter les échanges inter pays Réponse 2. La CNSA est l’Organe Etatique responsable de la Coordination des actions de sécurité alimentaire en Haiti. Une intégration régionale permettrait de partager l’expérience que nous avons dans le suivi des programmes de sécurité alimentaire et la coordination inter institutionnelle. Nous venons d’élaborer le Plan National de Sécurité Alimentaire et Nutritionnelle ( PNSAN) pour le pays. Réponse 3. L’implémentation de ce plan va se heurter `a certains grands défis : 1. L’adaptation des politiques nationales de sécurité alimentaire 2. L’intégration d’Haiti ou la République dominicaine alors que toutes les structures de la CARICOM sont adaptés aux pays de la caraïbes anglophone 3. Les mécanismes de suivi national et régionale ne sont pas définis pour suivre l’exécution et les performances du Plan 4. Le financement d’une telle politique régionale Réponse 4. Le rôle de la Société Civile n’est pas bien défini. Il faut dépasser les limites d’une Société Civile composée seulement ‘organisations mercantiles. O`ù sont les Associations paysannes, les coopératives. Globalement le Plan donne l’impression d’un exercice académique. Les lignes directrices doivent être transformées en programmes et en projets. Les Organisations du type CFNI, UWI, CARDI ont un rôle important `a jouer alors que rien n’est dit des Institutions nationales qui ont la charge de la gestion au niveau nationale. L’idée de la mise en place d’un observatoire régional et des observatoires nationaux de sécurité alimentaire Les premiers chapitres sont confus. Rien n’est dit de la vision et des résultats `a atteindre en terme de réduction de l’insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle dans la région Salutations distnguees ---------- English translation On behalf of the National Coordination of Food Safety, I welcome the initiative to develop a Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) for the Caribbean Region. Response 1: I think that some key aspects related to food security in the region have been ignored. 1. The demographic issue. Regional population growth rates are quite high and will undermine agricultural development, in particular programmes aimed at facilitating accessibility of households to food and can seriously hamper the management of productive lands. 2. The environmental issue is not sufficiently developed. It is dealt with in the context of climate change and management of natural disasters, but nothing is said about environmental protection in the context of facilitating and sustaining productive capacity. 3. The management of food crisis due to natural disasters or price increases is not sufficiently developed and detailed. 4. The gender aspect is crucial for countries like Haiti or the Dominican Republic and should be more fully elaborated. 5. More emphasis should be placed on education as a cross-cutting issue. 6. The ‘’Right to Food’’ is mentioned but the real meaning of such a complex notion needs to be more fully explained. 7. Consideration should be given to the development of a strategy that meets the objectives of the Latin America and the Caribbean Without Hunger Initiative 2025 with updates every 2 or 3 years. In this way, we would have a plan for 14 years with periodic updates. 8. No concrete proposals for a tax and trade policy to facilitate exchanges between countries. Response 2: The CNSA (Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire) is the state organization responsible for coordinating food and nutrition security in Haiti. Regional collaboration would help us to share our experience in monitoring food security programs and inter-institutional coordination. We have just developed the National Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (NPFNS) for the country. Response 3: The implementation of this plan will face certain major challenges. 1. The need for the development and adoption of national food and nutrition security policy and action. 2. The more effective linkage of Haiti and/or the Dominican Republic, taking account of the required adaptation, with the English-speaking Caribbean. 3. The development of mechanisms at national and regional levels for monitoring the implementation and performance of the Plan. 4. The financing of the proposals in the RFNSAP. Response 4: The role of civil society is not well defined. We must go beyond the limits of a civil society comprising only mercantile organizations. Where are the farmers’ associations, the cooperatives? Moreover, the Plan gives the impression of an academic exercise. The guidelines must be transformed into programs and projects. Organizations like CFNI, UWI and CARDI have an important roles to play. However, it is necessary to identify the roles of the national institutions responsible for managing at the national level. The first chapters are not very clear. More needs to be said about the vision and the results to be achieved in terms of reducing the food and nutrition insecurity in the region. With warm regards. Gary Mathieu

Posted on 05.09.2011 12:41 pm

Ian Ivey

Thank you for your comments Winston. I was brought up in New Zealand and worked in the agricultural and horticulture sector there for 28 years –as a producer, industry consultant and an agribusiness investment analyst and portfolio manager in Australia and New Zealand. I am used to hi-tech agriculture built around high efficiency, systems approaches, value adding and complete value chain structures. These are areas that have not been developed here in the region to any significant extent and which are hindering sector development. In my view there is too much emphasis on the social aspect of agriculture and not enough on the business aspect. If the sector thrives from the business perspective, then there will be social benefits – and that’s a paradigm shift in thinking that I think is required as a main thrust of any policy. It doesn’t mean that other initiatives are not of value, but they need to be pursued within an overall balanced context. In my view the only ways of achieving greater food security in the region are; • To encourage highly efficient agricultural production and delivery systems that operate at the least cost and thus supply food at internationally competitive prices (positive). • To develop key alliances and contractual relationships within and outside the region to develop the least risk, highest resilience food supply systems (positive). • To put up trade barriers and introduce agricultural subsidies – which will mean local consumes will pay much more than global prices for most types of food – which is essentially the case now – and increase poverty (negative). The proponents of the latter always bring up the issue of agricultural subsidies that countries such as the EU, USA, Japan, Korea, Sweden and Switzerland use to support their local sectors. But what they don’t say is that these sectors are highly inefficient and result in consumers paying more for food than they should. For example, I lived in Switzerland for 3 years where farmers get 70% of their income from subsidies and support measures. However, in spite of all these subsidies Swiss consumers pay some of the highest prices for food in the world. The same applies in Japan and Sweden. There are export subsidies for major commodities, such as grains and dairy, that distort world markets. But these apply only to a few discreet sectors. Outside of these areas there are huge opportunity areas – but there needs to be a shift in focus to ‘accentuate the positive’ and ‘eliminate the negative’. Why try to develop agriculture in areas where such competitive distortions take place? Why not focus on the areas where there are local and regional strengths and such distortions are of less or no relevance? That is one of the reasons agriculture in NZ still delivers 60% of national export revenues – because it has become more niche and value adding focused. In 1984 the country was essentially bankrupt because it was doing precisely the opposite – subsidizing loss making commodity agricultural production to the point where the country almost ran out of overseas reserves. Today the sector thrives with no subsidies and has been doing so for at least 15 years - after the need to transition away from old models to new modern models was grasped. It is still not perfect by any means but it is evolving in the right direction. One of the key planks in NZ has been the development of strategic international partnerships and alliances that reduce global risks, secure niche market positions, and strengthen the ability to deliver to customer’s needs ‘any time any place’. New Zealand is a tiny largely mountainous country located a very long way from major markets and has a small population of just over 4 million people. It also suffers major disasters – earthquakes and extreme weather events – everything from tropical cyclones to big freezes, floods to droughts, severe wind storms, hail storms and high UV light (which damages plastics and literally ‘cooks’ a percentage of crops in the field). But ways of coping have been developed over many years. It’s called ‘risk management’ – something that for us as agriculturalists was one of our first considerations – putting in extensive underground drainage and pumping systems to reduce the impacts of flooding, irrigation to cover drought periods, shelter belts to protect against extreme wind events, using structures to grow crops on (e.g. T-bar systems and trellises) to anchor tree and vine crops and help them withstand weather extremes, including ‘sunburn’, plus facilitate mechanized management, hail nets (to prevent damage from hail storms – which generally cause total crop loss plus carry over effects into a second season), the use of dwarf trees to reduce wind sail area and tree losses in storms, the use of protected agriculture, etc. There are many was to reduce risk which can be used, even in hurricane-prone areas. I have had long discussions with Guido Marcelle, the former Produce Chemist in Grenada, who has a great deal of knowledge about hurricane proofing agriculture in the region. Goodfellow Farms in The Bahamas has built a very successful business using highly innovative relatively low-tech risk management techniques to stay in business in the face of extreme weather events. All the answers to the region’s agricultural challenges already exist - either here in the region or in other small countries that have had to undergo a major sector restructuring process. What is needed is a proper policy, leadership in the sector, investment in education and R&D, and a serious implementation strategy (along with empirical targets and individual accountability) to take agriculture towards a 2020 future rather than one that still has most of its roots way back in the past. Most agriculture in the region is simply highly inefficient ‘peasant farming’. Hence the poor productivity and high costs of much ‘home-grown’ food. I have been working in the region since 2005 and have lived here since 2007. I have attached a presentation I made as a guest speaker at a session organized by CARDI in March 2010 that provides a bit of background to some of the issues I think are important. I have also attached a copy of a recent EU format CV I put together for another project so that you have an idea of my experience and credentials. Kind regards Ian

Posted on 01.09.2011 2:53 pm

Winston R. Rudder

Dear Ian, Yours of 26th instant together with attachments truly provides an analysis and perspective which are extremely useful for treating with the challenges confronting regional food and nutrition security and indeed agricultural development writ large. Please accept my appreciation for the time and intellectual energy expended if more fully exploring the issues of concern. I propose to share these detailed observations with the drafters of the RFNSAP for their consideration. Looking forward to your continued involvement and interest in the unfolding developments related to the finalization of the Action Plan. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 29.08.2011 6:10 pm

King Roosevelt

A right to good food should also mean a right to access good food. A right to good food should be interpreted to mean that no corrupted, adulterated or otherwise unhealthy foods should be on sale. If we speak about choice, that choice should not include food that will damage the body in the comprehensive way that over-processed foods have taken their toll on human health. Processing need not be as deadly as it is right now. Walk into any grocery store or variety shop and you will see that apart from the fresh vegetables, the peas and the beans, everything processed thing in that grocery is adulterated and not fit for human consumption. How then do we achieve the right to good food?

Posted on 27.08.2011 9:44 pm

King Roosevelt

40 - 50 years ago, who would have thought that burning a bit of stuff in your backyard would have been life threatening to anybody? On this evening's news I heard the Minister of Health speak about introducing legislation to counter the "indiscriminate" burning of stuff. It was at this point that I realised that we really have the bull by the tail. After imbibing the unhealthy foods and becoming sick and vulnerable, we then pass laws to prevent what would have been normal ways of keeping the environment clean as practiced for hundreds of years and stigmatising it by calling it "indiscriminate". Now we are told to leave the garbage to harbour vermin if the collection truck does not come around. Which threat is worse? The argument about the pollution of the environment is very funny too. We drive around these vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, spewing carbon dioxide into the air nearly 24 hours per day and then want to punish an individual that burns a little stuff that will contribute less than 0.001% to environmental pollution. Our governments continue to pump millions of dollars into acquiring drugs for health care rather than spend a few pennies trying to find medicinal cures and treatments from our own plants and herbs that can save the millions or at best, put the millions to better use and by doing this we may even create an economic advantage which could be exploited. We have doctors trained in western medicine who would criticise and scoff at alternative medicine, rather than embrace it and put their knowledge to better use by joining the effort to enhance alternative medicine and quickly turn around the folly. Like we would rather the population remain unhealthy so certain people can profit?? Health, nutrition and food security must also tackle these issues. It must address the problems and prevent us from punishing the symptoms. It also includes adopting a policy of disallowing profiteers from accumulating wealth at the expense of creating long term threats to the society and then spend millions of taxpayers money trying to repair/minimise the damage. Is this not the height of irresponsible political leadership?

Posted on 27.08.2011 9:44 pm

Grace Sirju-Charran

A welcome initiative- I just want to endorse the teaching of Agriculture and Nutrition in schools and to take into account the traditional knowledge and practices of farmers while acknowledging the need for improved technology, as two important components of this plan.

Posted on 26.08.2011 5:55 pm

Winston R. Rudder

Response to Leroy McClean Dear Mr McClean, Your contribution to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP is deeply appreciated. It is true that we were especially targeting the regional civil society organizations. However, it was never intended to discourage contributions from concerned individuals like yourself. Your point about the inclusion of critical data sets to facilitate clearer understanding of the background and context is noted and will be forwarded to the drafters. We look forward to any more specific comments you may have that could improve the content of the Plan, particularly in respect of implementation which has been a bugbear affecting implementation of regional agricultural development initiatives for so long. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response to Mr. Ian Ivey Dear Mr. Ivey, Your comments on the draft RFNSAP are deeply appreciated. It is agreed that in order to set an appropriate context for taking action on food and nutrition security in the Caribbean, the policy issues you raised must be addressed. Perhaps, these are not elaborated in sufficient detail, but a close reading of the RFNSP would indicate a recognition of the importance of treating with“… modernization, productivity and efficiency …” issues to effect the required transformation of the regional food and agricultural sector. Similarly, the RFNSP does speak to the need for building resilience to the recurring threats to food and nutrition security posed by climate change and natural disasters through the establishment of a Regional Information and Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security, the construction of risk profiles for the region’s main crops in support of emergency preparedness, agricultural risk management and agricultural insurance. Nevertheless, a closer look will be undertaken to ensure that these matters are adequately covered. We look forward to any more specific comments you may have that could improve the content of the Plan, particularly in respect of implementation which has been a critical constraint on the realization of regional agricultural development initiatives. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response of Roosevelt King Dear Mr. King, Your contribution to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP is deeply appreciated. The comments will be particularly useful in elaborating details of the interventions and activities to be undertaken at regional and national levels. There is no disagreement that health, nutrition and food security are integrally linked. Indeed, the intent is that the policies, strategies and actions must address these in a comprehensive way. Similarly, we accept your prudent advice that in moving forward, we must take stock and proceed from where we are. We look forward to any further comments you may have on issues related to the implementation aspects of the Action Plan. Once more, please accept our thanks and best regards. Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response to Carl Roberts Dear Mr. Roberts, Thanks for your contribution to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP. Your words of encouragement are deeply appreciated. We fully agree with your observation on the need to build and strengthen resilience to natural disasters and to incorporate risk reduction strategies in the approaches to increase regional food and nutrition security. Your advice that the region should more fully explore the potential of locally produced commodities to meet its food and nutritional requirements is very prudent. We look forward to any further comments you may wish to make, particularly on the implementation aspects of the action plan. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response to Cecilia Babb Dear Ms. Babb, We thank you for the pertinent comments in your contribution to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP. The extensive coverage of the CPDC membership across the region and the considerable capabilities of civil society in a variety of implementation roles (public education, production, distribution etc) will definitely be of tremendous value in achieving the objectives of the RFNSP and RFNSAP. Your commitment in this regard is noted. We look forward to any further comments you may wish to make in respect of the implementation of the RFNSAP. With kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response to Jethro T. Greene Dear Jethro, We are grateful for your contribution to the e-Consultation endorsing the RFNS and RFNSAP as important instruments for promoting regional food and nutrition security. It underscores the commitment of CaFAN as a strategic partner and key stakeholder in this important endeavour. We appreciate that the comments and views of the extensive CaFAN membership were canvassed and incorporated during the process of drafting the RFNSAP. However, as the end of the period for this e-Consultation draws near, we extend the opportunity for any further comments and observations CaFAN may wish to make, particularly with respect to the implementation aspects of the Action Plan. Once more, please accept our thanks and kind regards Winston R. Rudder Facilitator Response to Carmen Dardano Dear Carmen, The contribution FAO’s Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division (AGND) to the e-Consultation on the RFNSAP is deeply appreciated. The specific comments are noted and will be brought to the attention of the drafters. Please do not hesitate to forward any further observations you may have with respect to the implementation aspects of the Action Plan. Once more please accept our thanks and kind regards. Winston R. Rudder Facilitator

Posted on 26.08.2011 12:27 pm

Carmen Dardano

Below some comments by FAO's Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division (AGND). For a formatted version of the comments please see the attachment. AGND proposed to add the following parts to the outline: Action Area 3: Food Utilization/Nutritional Adequacy Action Programme 7.1 Activity 7.1.2 Development of national dietary goals (for macro and micronutrients) in line with the regional dietary goals. Activity 7.1.3 Development of food-based dietary guidelines for each of the member countries for different sectors of the population (children, adolescents and pregnant women). Activity 7.1.4 Define, in line with the dietary goals, behavioural and cognitive goals to encourage changes in the population. Activity 7.1.5 Review and update the food- based dietary guidelines every five year for each member country. a. Encouragement of healthy and nutritional food choices for adolescents (with an emphasis on girls and particularly pregnant and breast feeding girls) Action Programme 7.3: Activity 7.3. Strengthen food security and nutrition education for primary school students and their families. Activity 7.3 Integrate garden-based learning into the national school curriculum and strengthening food security and nutrition for primary grade one to six Activity 7.3.4: Activity 7.3.4: Implementation of nutritional awareness-raising campaigns; support to school feeding programmes, restructuring of agricultural curricula to include importance of nutrition and food security

Posted on 23.08.2011 1:07 pm

Jethro T. Greene

Dear All, CaFAN has had representation on the Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy by its Chief Coordinator, Mr. Jethro Greene. It is part of CaFAN’s mandate to get membership feedback and therefore all documents have been circulated to CaFAN members where their comments and views were incorporated into a CaFAN position papers. Several of the short term measures included in the policy document which we consider low hanging fruits that have been pushed as part of the action plan proposed by CaFAN. For example, promoting food and nutrition security by encouraging chefs and schools through their school feeding programmes and food and nutrition classes, and also encourage persons in urban areas to get involved in agriculture through simple backyard gardens so that the general population is sensitized. CaFAN has also proposed rural modernization as a key pillar for overall agriculture development and sustainability. The document proposed by CaFAN is available, and thus far our members have gotten a fair hearing on the policy and are satisfied with the inclusion of our ideas since we proposed that food and nutrition security is just not the business of farmers and ministries of agriculture, but everyone. We are quite satisfied and must applaud CARICOM and FAO/GTFS project for taking a participatory approach in the development of the policy and action plan. At the recent CaFAN working at Guyana, a decision was made to for all of CaFAN members to work with their food and nutrition councils to help promote agriculture and regional food and nutrition security. CaFAN is now in the process of initiating a project of linking agriculture to food and nutrition with support from its partners like CFNI. We are also developing a project of linking small farmers to markets through a regional integrated production and marketing planning project. The draft outline of these projects is being debated by CaFAN membership and we hope this will be approved and flushed out by end of August and September 2011 respectively. We applaud the effort of wider consultation and will do what ever we can to help. Yours in Development, Jethro T. Greene Chief Coordinator CaFAN

Posted on 23.08.2011 10:29 am

Carl Roberts

Whenever I think of food security I am forced to ponder on the vulnerable of our region in light of catastrophes. As a region each of our islands experience natural disasters and events that make us always at high risks. In light of these factors and the variables in experiences, our two seasons(wet and dry) affords us the options to always be on the lookout for a shortage, and/ or limited supply of food should a disaster arise. With such a rich history of seasonal changes and catastrophic events that affect the livelihood and daily experiences of our Caribbean people, a lack of affordable comprehensive crop and livestock insurances has forever been a challenge for the folk who need it most. Dispute the advances in technology and engineering, there seems to be a lost in linkage to the "common folk agricultural science/ back yard farming" as existed in years past. Just about two decades ago, food security for the extended and nuclear family-allowed a daily balanced meal to the family table, constituting of at least 80% coming from the family plot and the other 20% from some other sources. In 2011, the back-bone of Caribbean economies and particularly the windward islands are overwhelmingly Agricultural. This implies that our policies should be groomed to encourage all stake holders to think and act agricultural.The regions future lies in the guts of our people. We can only teach our children to be food secure when we empower them with the right tools and provide a real appeal for what we produce as a region; after all we are what we eat. Whenever,we decide not to feed ourselves properly or even (as forced by an adapted fictional foreign cultural- a dreamworld as displayed in a 60 min movie) relying totally on something or someone to feed us, we are neglecting our fundamental duty as free human beings -the right to our independence. We must increase Fair trading inter regionally and extra regionally, at the same time, we must use our resources to their fullest potential. With cottage scale and large scale agro processing industries, as appropriate to locality, We have to make use of the raw materials that goes to waste which otherwise could be stored and preserved for the low supply season. In light of vulnerabilities, the concept of "rejected produce" must be taught of carefully. "The stone a builder rejects becomes the chief corner stone" In other words, When a banana which has one spot of stain is not suitable to enter a foreign market, there are 6.3 million people in the Caribbean who cannot afford to buy the said banana living under poverty lines, and would settle for the banana skin, which sometimes feed an entire family of six. The message is we need to help ourselves more and to use our Independence to become more self reliant and efficient as we seek to be food secure. I am very very pleased to see the level of discussion on this matter at this critical period in the history of the Caribbean region.

Posted on 19.08.2011 10:25 am
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