Home Trends S/RAD Speaker Series – COVID 19: New Imperatives for Food Security

S/RAD Speaker Series – COVID 19: New Imperatives for Food Security

by smart

welcome everyone my name is kevin williams i’m a senior research fellow at salis um today our webinar is the third in the speaker series uh the title of uh today’s talk is kobe 19 new imperatives for food security the moderator for today is dr patricia nattover senior research fellow at salesis and chair for the sustainable rural and agricultural development research cluster she will she will um moderate our um the the talk today and from all indication we expect a lively discussion i’ll join you at the end of the talk to to just wrap up so doctor not over it’s over to you hi good afternoon everyone and thank you dr williams for introducing me we anticipate as kevin said a wonderful discussion today we have two speakers mr errol grant and dr stanvray who is well known as the former permanent secretary of minister agriculture and or campus registrar i just wanted to begin by introducing some brief notes on our speaker series and on the um context that we face today in terms of food security and in particular hunger in the world so or or silly says the sustainable rural and agriculture development cluster had um embarked on a speaker series the overall arching theme for the speaker series is coveted 19 discourses on fleeing the plantation a modern marinade for sustainable food systems and so far we’ve had three presentations the first one was on food systems in crisis the second one was an afro-descendant seed infrastructures and today we’re going to be looking at new imperatives for food security now we’ll be continuing this speaker series um until the end of this year and then we’ll resume it in 2022 but our next speaker will take place in september and we anticipate to be looking at positioning biotechnology to better serve after descendant farmers in rural jamaica in the caribbean and our speaker then will be dr sylvia mitchell and that will take place on september the 1st 2021 so we’re going to skip august in our speaker series and then continue again in september so we do hope that you will join us as we um elucidate on the issues that relate to sustainable food systems internationally but with specific reference to small states in the caribbean now why are we gathered here today we know that with coven 19 and the global disruption of supply chains right across the world the shutdown and the inconveniences that have been introduced but also livelihoods and and employment has been dramatically impacted by this global health crisis so in 2019 before the covet pandemic it was estimated that we would have 690 million people or roughly nine percent of the total world population suffering from hunger being undernourished if trends continue and trends to increase hunger in the world began um an uptick from 2014 and if these trends continue it is estimated that hunger will exceed 240 million in 2030. so we’re not on target to meet our sdg2 goals which is zero hunger and the eradication of all forms of malnutrition so this is prior to the covet 19 epidemic currently in 2021 the world food program indicates that we’ll have 869 million people hunger are hungry today so that’s already 30 million more than the projected increase in 2030 for the global hunger estimates so we’re way off track in terms of the managing the issues related to hunger in the region and within the international context and i just wanted to bring to your attention that when it comes to the the description of the characteristics of the of those who suffer from hunger children are a large part of that problem in 2019 21.3 percent or 144 million children under the age of five were estimated to be stunted and 6.9 or 47 47 million wasted while at least 340 million children suffer from micronutrient deficiencies so we have a massive problem in our hands when it comes to food security and dynamics but i also wanted to highlight when we turned to the region that it is estimated that we have currently around 8 million people who are suffering from hunger in the region and it depends if we’re looking at the caricom region that estimate is around 8 million but if we look at the greater caribbean that estimate would be increased one of the things we highlight in the caribbean though is that haiti accounts for approximately 60 percent of caricom’s population which is 117.5 million and approximately 90 percent of the undernourished persons in the region so we’re talking about hunger and the caribbean is concentration tends to be largely in haiti and even today as we speak there’s a political turmoil with the assassination of president moisey and there’s a constitutional and and political crisis which didn’t begin today but you know has really reached a dramatic climax in in in that country um with this radical um new development so haiti um not only suffers from this acute level of hunger but we can see that there’s a political context in which the ability to govern and imagine those populations for sustainable well-being and to meet sdg goals is really under um severe threat so we want to emphasize that hunger in the region is a problem it has concentrations in particular regions but then in venezuela in 2018 that is before the the deepening of the crisis um with the um sanctions and the the internal political um difficulties 21.2 percent of the population suffer from hunger in nicaragua it’s 17 in bolivia it’s 17.1 percent and in guatemala it’s 15.2 and this is 2018 numbers so we we can anticipate that these numbers are are really um dated already in terms of the levels of hunger and food insecurity that is being experienced in in the region so i just wanted to begin with that context to let us understand that we’re facing a unprecedented crisis in terms of the situation um as it relates to food hunger and food insecurity in the region and in this in this panel we have two speakers one is a farmer and one is uh administrator with long roots in the in the um food and agriculture business and um he will definitely bring more information to light for us on the caribbean and and perhaps a more laser focus on on jamaica but we will invite them to try and look at this situation that we’re facing today and see what lessons we can learn from their from from their presentation for food security in the caribbean and in in particular with especially focus on jamaica today um but also within the context of climate change we’ve just um had our earliest hurricane in the season arriving um hurricane elsa and in the last six to six years was the first hurricane to hit barbados so that we’re living broadly in unprecedented times so um i would like to know introduce our first speaker um with that with that um overview of our challenges and our first speaker today will be dr donovan stanbury who as i said before is a registrar for the university of west indies mona since august 2019 he is someone who has a long history in in agriculture and he graduated with honors from the moscow agriculture academy know the russian state agriculture university and with a master’s degree in agricultural economics way back in 1992 since then he has been in government service the planning institute of jamaica where he was a senior economist and the head of the agricultural unit until march 1996 and then he was recruited to the ministry of public utilities and transport as a senior director of responsibility for water which as we know is the lifeblood of our um agricultural sector if sorry in january 1998 he was transferred to the ministry of water as a senior director and then promoted his technical director chief technical director for water in 2000 in the ministry of water and hosin since november 20 2004 he was appointed permanent secretary in the ministry of land and environment from where he was then transferred to the ministry of agriculture and lands in april 2006 so he’s had a very very varied history in public service all focused on the central thematics impacting on food security and agricultural development so since 2006 he’s been permanent secretary he was permanent secretary of the minister of agriculture and fisheries which was later merged with the minister of industry to form the minister of industry investment commerce agriculture and fisheries mr stanby has remained as a permanent secretary of the merged minister of industry commerce agriculture and fisheries until 2019 so he has represented the government of jamaica in several fora therefore from water policy and management environment agriculture um msme development industrial commerce and he has played major and sometimes pioneering roles in the formulation of policies and legislation in the subject areas under his various ministries portfolio he has also negotiated numerous loans and grants with international development partners for plethora of projects and programs in the various ministries he assured and overseeing the successful implementation of these projects and programs despite his his hectic workload he has managed to complete his mba from the mona school of business and management with distinction and a doctorate in environmental management from university west indies he is also a certified teacher in the russian language so this this this outstand this outstanding public servant who was now leading the charge at the university of west indies as our campus registrar i’d now turn it over to him who so well recognized in jamaica that he received the order of distinction and he continues to serve both the public and the broader um spiritual community as an elder in the church of god so mr donovan stanberry dr donovan stanberry we turn the floor over to you thank you very much dr nartova very happy to participate in this forum um it is my means of keeping in touch um with my first love which is agriculture today we focus on the matter of um new imperatives for food security um under the coverage 19 pandemic and i’d just like to share this presentation with you i’m trying to sort out how i so i want to take us back uh my screaming is not moving but i’ll proceed anyway i want to take us back to where we are coming from um what is the definition of food security and if we look at the ministry of the government’s food and nutritional security policy um of 20 up 13 it defines food security can you go back to the first side please okay defines food security and this definition of course is adopted from the world food summit uh definition in 1996 a nation is said to be food secure when all people at all times of physical social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food which meets the dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life so from the definition we see that food security has a number of dimensions there is a physical availability of food so that our production systems and whatever food we import must be able to deliver sufficient quantities to satisfy our dietary needs but food security is more than just the physical availability food security also addresses the aspect of access in terms of affordability and being able to access food by virtue of our financial means um food security also concerns nutritional quality of our food in other words not we must not only have physical food but the food must be able to satisfy our dietary needs our nutritional needs and of course the food um ought to be safe and more important ladies and gentlemen our food food security um has to do with sustainability because we can be food secure today and at another point in time we are not so desist our food systems must be stable survive in economic shock we have the climate change and our food security must be robust and resilient enough to be able to deliver notwithstanding climate change and natural disasters um before we get to the coming 19th dimension i’d just like to take us back historically and make the point that we were never structured as a country to be food secure we know our past coming from the plantation system our economy was so organized on a monoculture basis fully export oriented for one crop just to produce sugar and all our need for food was satisfied by imports so from the get go we were never structured to be food secure to grow what we eat and to eat what we grow we have to credit the slaves who were given plots um to produce food to help with their own sustenance um we have to credit them for attempting um the first attempt at anything that would call diversification or food systems and food sovereignty and later on after slavery was abolished in 1838 um the ex-slaves sought to establish what we call the peasantry but their efforts as we know are were systematically undermined and they were relegated to marginal hillside lands and today unfortunately um not much has changed in that regard the last census we did was in 2007 the agricultural center states that 75 of all farms in jamaica uh were in fact under one acre and together all of those 75 of the farms only constituted 15 of all farmlands that was in 2007 uh nearly 15 16 years ago and i’m sure that the situation would have worsened since we haven’t done another censor since that time so it can be seen that from an historical standpoint food security has never been an objective we are structurally conditioned to import and to satisfy our needs from importation and very little regard in terms of building an infrastructure to produce the food that we need and in the sufficient varieties uh the policy environment i would say also that has prevailed um certainly to independence to this time is also not supported not accommodating of um our any efforts at achieving uh food security our best lands in terms of their fertility in terms of um their flatness in terms of terrain and so on are have been devoted to our export crops sugar banana etc and those lands have the best infrastructure in terms of roads and irrigation and all of those lands are devoted to producing traditional exports which we know have been uh getting a real beating um with the liberalization of of global markets we have lost our preferential access um but those lands have still been occupied by those crops largely over 9 of all irrigable lands in jamaica um are in fact irrigated and so there is a significant dependence on rain-fed agriculture and that is going to affect the stability of our food production that will meditate against our capacity uh to produce enough food on a consistent basis um we have to address that if we are serious about attaining um a sufficient level of food security we have also had a manufacturing sector that has been built and bred and nurtured on the whole concept of importing cheap agriculture raw materials from countries in latin america uh south and central america and a very little valley is added here just a little mixing and packaging and that process has been facilitated for many many many years by wavers of import duties and those importation of raw material and that did not incentivize um our local farmers to produce enough to supply uh the manufacturing sector we have also had a trade policy that has been biased to importation of cheap food and that of course has been aided and abated uh by the world bank the imf the wto because we were told that we should stick to services we should smile and invite tourists and others will take care of our food um that has decimated for instance the the local um deer industry um in the early 90s we opened the floodgate to a law um for cheap milk porter to come in and that has destroyed our deer industry from a production base of 39 million liters of milk at best we are now doing about 12 or 13 so that has reduced uh milk production almost threefold with the exit of over 500 dairy farmers we have not been able to get back there because we had subscribed to the policy dictates of the burton woods um institution that say to us oh you just do your services and we will uh supply your foods that’s a very dangerous position we saw for instance uh in 2008 when we had the last major food crisis uh that the first instinct of those net exporting uh countries was to ban um exploitation of foods and that puts us in a very very vulnerable position and generally speaking the infrastructure to support production distribution and marketing and food locally has been very very weak so what has been the result of all of that those historical um those historical forces and our current infrastructure um we have seen a staggering food import bill um on the screen you will see that we have figures from statistical institute of jamaica from 2014 um that has seen our food import bill hovering over uh a billion united states dollar in comparison to that i don’t have those figures but i know them at best we are exporting probably two two and a half to 250 million us dollar worth of food so the the balance of trade in terms of food has been um the overwhelmingly in the favor of imports um 2019 we must have gone crazy because over 2018 our ford import bill increased by uh nearly 100 million dollars and even though 2020 was a covered year we see that our food import bill was in fact uh greater than 2018 and all the years prior um that’s not a good sign and that certainly is not sustainable so what are the new concerns um with covet 19 um in the first instance um in a year 2020 where we had nine months of pandemic where global supply chains were were disrupted and where it was challenging to import um our bill 933 million u.s dollars was in fact greater than what it was in 2018 uh what that says to me that we might have imported uh us a smaller quantity in relation to 2018 but because food prices have gone sky high since the pandemic um it impacts our bill 933 million is not small money and we have to do our endeavor best to ensure that we can replace a portion of that and my estimate is that we can replace at least 30 35 to 40 of that quite easily without subjecting our people uh to higher prices for local locally produced food we have seen last year in the pandemic um our farmers would have lost a significant amount of their crops they had to dump the spoil in the field because they have lost a significant market uh which is a tourism market and that of course will impact uh the quality of life of our farmers because it impacts directly their earnings are not only theirs but their children we are talking about 220 uh thousand farmers and if we estimate that each one of them has four dependents then we are talking about almost a million people who would have suffered loss of income as a result of the um the loss of the tourism market during the pandemic and the consequent impact on their income at the same time ladies and gentlemen um we now have serious concerns about access to food dr natova um in our introductory remarks pointed out that the caribbean um the number of food um people in the cabin who who don’t have access to sufficient food um was about 8 million ninety percent of that from haiti um so in the caribbean in normal times outside of of haiti we really don’t have the kind of chronic malnutrition that that we that are that we see in other uh regions in the world but um with the downturn of our economy um the stunting of economic growth with the fallout in tourism um we have seen and and that has been uh announced by statin that our unemployment rate went up in january 2021 uh to 8.9 up from uh 7.3 percent uh the previous january and statin also did a special survey um that shows that 54 of the respondents in that survey indicated uh that they had experienced decline in their income since since the onset of covered so the economic factors the loss of job the unemployment rate going up the loss of income will definitely um mean that people will have less access uh to food economic access that is will not be able to afford it uh ladies and gentlemen as if that was not enough um the fao is not telling us that um food prices have gone up um so for instance um their monthly food price index showed a 38 increase in may 2021 um relative to may 2020 and that was the highest level in 10 years that is since 2011. this is alarming and anybody who goes to supermarket here in jamaica will in fact see that the prices of food literally going up every almost every week every month um but not only how food price has gone up internationally but also the inputs um because our agriculture is dependent significantly and importation of inputs so for instance animal feed for our livestock industry um for instance chemicals and fertilizer would have gone up and also we would see that reflected in the price of locally produced food um our yams i mean yams was going through the roof uh a couple a couple weeks ago a couple months ago um one had to pay as much as 200 per pound so all of these factors are in fact um impacting our status in terms of our food security of course the higher prices globally as recorded by the fao food price index those global food prices have been driven um principally by by china’s almost in shear shape demand for food that demand has been increasing and has not updated in many many uh years because of the as a chinese economy grow people have more disposable income and demand and more and more of the world’s food resources we have also had the issue of jolt in major food producing countries such as argentina and brazil and that is a ever-present danger to the world’s food security the um climate change the the frequent and prolonged joke severe jokes the frequency of weather episodes and their intensity all of those are impacting global food security global food production and we are not immune from those impacts here in jamaica we have seen um you know even elsa last week the impact it has had and both on livestock and crop production and so we have to increase the resilience of our food uh production systems to be able to withstand um the impacts of climate change and significantly um we have to note also that um the food price increases globally i’ve also been influenced by the diversion of food to fuel um increasingly we are having more food products going to buy our fuels etc so the alarming trend we are seeing as recorded by the fao in global food prices will definitely impact our 2021 food import bill recall that we are at 933 million in 2020 last year compared with the normal year of 2018 we’re on 909 million so with these price increases globally we are definitely going to see our food import build increasing even if the physical quantities that we import remain at the 2020 level so higher food price in 2021 corporate with the continuing adverse economic impact of the pandemic uh manifested in in unemployment and loss of income at the wholesale level will definitely exacerbate the issue of economic access to food for our people here in germany now what as all of that is going on um we observe what i would refer to as some inexplicable uh inexplicable actions on the part of the government at a time when we should be making more lands available to our farmers recall that i said earlier that 75 of our farmers are operating on less than one hectare of land and together they want to own uh fifteen percent of all the lands but against that background it is really inexplicable uh that the government is insisting on this bernard large uh development which will rob agriculture of the country’s most fertile lands yes there are some talking thing there to you know get a few farmers on and so on uh but these housing developments that are contemplated will take huge track of the most fertile lands in the country and move them into homes and development i think given our food security situation given our unsustainable food import bill uh that we’re going in the wrong direction i also want to point out that we have been seeing a trend so far in stanza culture centers 1996 and 2007 the total era in farming in agriculture declined from 404 thousand hectares to three twenty five thousand hectares remember that the last century was 2007 i really shudder to think what the figure is now because more and more increasingly we are seeing more of agricultural lands uh being diverted to uh housing uh construction and of course we have observed a war and trend of farmers being pushed off their lands to accommodate these large developments and these cases that are highlighted here in platinum gardens in in saint thomas and bernard lodge in saint catherine in long pan and chilani are well documented and and well ventilated in the public media so it’s not really a figment of my imagination that is not the way we should be going in the other direction empowering our farmers uh with more lands and support services to ensure that we can feed ourselves in a sustainable way so ladies and gentlemen i’d just like to end um with what i would refer to as um some imperative for action um what do we need to do in the face of this pandemic to reverse uh the historical uh preconditioning that i have outlined earlier to reverse the friendly policy environment and to encourage greater production and lift our liver food security um a number of things i just want to highlight four um in the first instance we have to rescue um the bernard largelands um some eighteen thousand hectares of golden fertile lands have been uh returned to the government because of the collapse of the sugar industry in clarendon and saint catherine the greatest temptation for these lands to be diverted to housing development um will be if we do not engage those lands effectively in agriculture production and so what i think needs to happen is that we need to formulate a master plan for the use of those lands uh based on cell capability studies to see what the land can grow what are the best crops suited for it and and you know orderly and systematic way get those lands into the hands of those who want to engage in farming it cannot be that we just leave them there and then the developer that comes along um first comes first serve um we have to be deliberate about it um if we want to um secure these lands secondly we have to prioritize production of greens um sorghum corn et cetera the livestock industry i say this because if one does a detailed analysis of our food import bill it will be seen that almost 50 percent of the things that we import the food really relate to animal feeds and product of animal origin it therefore means that we are most vulnerable in the era of um animal protein and if we’re going to build that area of agriculture we have to have a local production of animal feeds to bring down our food import bill we do have the capacity to feed ourselves i’m in poultry and in in pork in eggs we are self-sufficient uh but we have to bear in mind that uh the major inputs for those industries are imported the the the animal feed and if we’re going to have a sustainable livestock system if we are going to be able to provide ourselves with adequate quantities of animal protein in a sustainable way we have got to address the question of pastures we have got to produce our own grains uh here in jamaica um small ruminants for instance is very important we import uh over 90 percent of the the b funded and the not the the montana and the gold meat that that we consume here um we have got to reverse that thirdly we have got to concentrate on the development of orchards um a significant portion of our food imported um is is really the importation of puree and concentrates um for our juice manufacturing sector um those raw material also we have to explore the export potential of of our fruits our fruits are we have the best quality fruits in the world or mangoes or you name it and there is an export potential there also our consumption per capita consumption of food our fruits rather is below what is acceptable and have in regard to the high incidences of non-communicable diseases we really need to step up um consumption of fruits and vegetables so for all those reasons i think we need to focus an archer archer is not something that we embrace in jamaica um aki has now become our number one agricultural expert um run about 25 30 million u.s a year but it is interesting that um to export that value that that amount of aqui we literally go around the country and collecting two two boxes from different farms um the concept of an architecture for instance has eluded us other people and we really need to engage and quite a bit of those uh bernard’s land of course could be used uh for archers or fruits and finally ladies and gentlemen i think we need to focus on the blue economy we have vast resources our exclusive economic zone um is nearly nine ten times um our land mass as a country and therein lies enormous resources that we are not um exploiting sufficiently our fishermen are not equipped to go there in the deep to harvest our large pelagic resources and so they tend to concentrate on a near reef so much so that we have over exploited um our reef um resources and and we need to replenish them so we need to focus on the blue economy because of people we do in fact eat a significant amount of um a fish and um and we do actually import huge quantities of fish sardines um mackerel salted fish banana from guyana et cetera et cetera and i think that we need to tap into that ladies and gentlemen these things are urgent and as a nation we can only claim to independence and true sovereignty when in fact we can feed ourselves thank you very much much um for that fantastic presentation highlighting the historical drivers the fundamental biases in the system against a small the small farmer the policy biases the trade biases and know the developmental biases in terms of projects and activities that are being projected in that are running inimical encounter to the trends to support food security facilitate um the support of rural livelihoods as well as um reduce the propensity to hunger and malnutrition so um fantastic presentation i wanted to just alert our audience that um we began late because we were having some technical difficulties and i wanted to apologize for that but we have run into a slight constraint in terms of time um dr stanberry said he had a meeting at two which you would have to leave that’s still confirmed um 2 30 okay all right then so um i wanted to to ask him to to um stay with us then since we have a little bit more time with him and hello or second speaker mr errol grant who will introduce shortly but just some rules that i um didn’t mention at the beginning could you please if you have questions put them in the q a box which is at the bottom of the screen um that you’ll see little text boxes above q a and or um if there are any questions that are no field in the chat rooms then we will ask those questions after we have our second presentation so i would now like to introduce our second speaker mr errol joseph grant who is a farmer and an advocate for the legislation of ganja and against the disenfranchising of our peasants and indigenous farmers he’s also a natural health consultant herbalist and reflexologist the host of a natural health program on sun city radio that’s in on port moore called a healthier you which is aired every friday at 9 35 a.m to 10 a.m so do check that out if you’re living in the vicinity so he’s also into sports um healthy person healthy body he’s a marathon runner and he was made a lifetime honoree for his continued participation in the reagan marathon which is held in negro jamaica in december every year some more power to our mr grant he’s also an event manager planner and coordinator and he’s in the community race director of the george lee memorial 6k road race and he’s also the creator of sports spectacular for portmore week celebration so he’s a community activist develop development agent but he’s also a farmer which means that he’s concerned with the nation feeding the nation and showing the security of our population the health and the life of our population always liked this this comment i think it’s um norman grant likes to say if you ate today thank a farmer so we need to thank our farmers because at the bedrock of our ability to survive is our ability to eat and that cannot happen without the hard work dedication and um investment that farmers make daily to meet our needs so i’d now like to turn the floor over to mr errol grant and ask him to give his presentation after which we’ll then have the q a section i anticipate mr grant will speak for approximately 20 25 minutes to bring us his views on new imperatives of food security at jamaican perspective thank you dr northwest thank you very much i’m quite honored to be able to to address the panel and also our listeners those who have joined us to hear what is going on in this forum covet 19 has undoubtedly affected all classes of people around the world whether you are rich or poor there is one thing it has taught us and that is it can be reached to the import tomorrow well here in jamaica kobe 19 is no public enemy number one and i say this say that to say this there definitely has been some devastating effects on our homes from the loss of jobs lots of properties lots of families and without those lots of for independence we are being dictated to as to how we should live how we should eat uh where we should go all of these things are part of what we are suffering now and of course with our food we are being forced to eat foods that we don’t grow and that has affected us seriously um if you look at the health situation in jamaica now even the ministry of health is saying that the health care industry is overwhelmed why because our people are not being fed the right kind of food so the scarcest of good food in jamaica has now taken a toll on our health i must say that um what we have just heard from the honorable him honorable and i’ll tell you why because i’ve been listening to him for a very long time now and he has never stopped informing us about the kind of foods we are eating they do the type of foods we should be growing and there’s always been presenting to the government ways to use the food to bring the people out of poverty right so i i i am very thankful for it for the presentation and in listening to him he has now put me into another mood because what we are now doing from this when we leave this forum i am going to be more more on the attacking side i don’t know because health is very important all farmers have been under pressure from before the advent of co-igniting their farms are being confiscated and i deliberately use the word confiscated by the land grabbers including our government for what they call urban development our food production is reduced immensely while our food importation has increased at the same rate to farmers we see this as a deliberate action why we thought that we would be protected because we were promised that they are going to be putting idle farmlands back into fire production to boost the farming sector this is not so what is happening now is the reverse they are taking out farmlands and they are not being put back into food production they are now converting the farmlands the housing schemes while there are lands that are not arable which can be used for building houses they are ignoring those maps there are lands also that were prepared for housing solutions and they are turning their backs on those lands deliberately we see them trying to like save those lands especially in portmore they’re trying to save those lands for what we call the portmore beverly hills so they put all the commoners on the flood where the food is supposed to be grown and saving the hills for their compatriots that’s how we are looking at it and this is a reality and i think this is a forum to to express the way we actually are thinking of the situation hearing thought more we are where we find that some of the farmers who were evicted had to flee i mean flee because they refused to come after that and they had to flee as a result of being fearful of losing their lives they have already lost told no many of them are are confused as to what to do because a lot of them have been left out they have not received any compensation no one has spoken to them we read their their their transfer from where they are to wherever they say they would put them and no one is even trying to help them wiki and their livelihood and this is creating a lot of misery among them frustration is has gone to its highest and now we are being left to the mercy of food merchants and that’s where the problem starts to get worse the safety of all food is now of great concern as dr stanberry said which is as great a concern to us as the poor quality of foods that are coming into the island the advent of kobe 19 created a void which increased our concern why what we have found is that due to the coveting situation pandemic or pandemic whatever they want to call it food exportation from certain countries were caught no we were also even though we weren’t exporting as much as we should we were also exporting some of the food that came to north on top of that the country was already flooded with gmos that’s a genetically modified organisms they call food which nowadays they’re calling it genetically improved food when you hear them saying that the authority is saying that that’s the type of food they’re talking about foods that were altered like tomatoes that don’t attract flies um corn that don’t attract worms that’s the kind of food that’s coming into the island vegetables that can’t spoil right we are avocado country when jamaica start beer pier we have fear in our bone dance right there are people importing peers from america and they are allowed by the system to do that right so with them importing foods that we grow just imagine the impact on us and on jamaica where all food is concerned authorities would prefer to get rid of our farms and and that’s the conclusion we are now at to allow more importations of technologically farmed foods there are there have been the minister of agriculture has been saying in his speeches that they will be going all out to provide facilities for people who want to go into technological farming now we see technological farming as the farming we see from laboratories we would prefer him saying farming with technology because we could use equipment with our farming we don’t need the chemicals all we need is equipment right and when i say this about the chemicals i i must bring this back to the fore when we were given some well not on this side in fort worth not with the burden large farmers but farmers in centralism were given fertilizers made from human waste which produced some worms that eat everything including the top soil and after today the farms that use that type of fertilizer are still having problems with worms keep coming back we had advised them against it and they turned their backs on us because no way can human waste be used to fertilize food food is something we are supposed to be consuming what the human has uh has excreted is the waste of the same food you eat so when you do that you are actually poisoning yourself it’s the same thing with um breathing inhaling carbon dioxide you’re actually poisoning your own system so we are quite perturbed over the government pushing their agenda for technologically farm food and what it is doing to our environment because actually it’s not contributing to a major environment because the gases that come from those foods actually help to deteriorate our environment jamaica’s constitution specifies the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment yet our minister and our ministry of agriculture is doing the opposite i i’m trying to figure out what is happening because in the world environmental day celebration or minister of agriculture made a statement and this is an excerpt from what he said he said in the article jamaica’s constitution specifies the right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse and degradation of the ecological heritage as one of the fundamental rights and freedoms now with this being quoted by the minister and to see the same authorities taking away the farmlands from the farmers what are we to think are they aware of the quality of foods that they are getting rid of are they aware of the safety of the foods that they are importing and the foods that they are getting rid of are they aware of the effects that these kind of foods will be having on our citizens in fact it has already been shown that even those who are fat are malnourished it has already been shown that most of the people who are consuming these foods their immune systems are compromised and the simple fact it does blow over them you hear them seldom catch cold right influenza hits them with a strong impact people are suffering with asthma the asthma attacks have increased people are just dying without showing any symptoms because their bodies are compromised their immune systems are compromised and this is creating a very serious impact on the health care system in jamaica the behavior of the government is confusing with this they are aware and are quoting what the constitution says yet they are the privilege of the farmers by pushing their agenda to replace organic food dr stanberg spoke of good food farmers we call it organic food they are replacing the organic food with technologically farmed foods that is what we are scared of because it not only just affect us inside it affects us also mentally that is why our children are finding difficult to learn in school the foods they are getting are empty low quality foods so the brain isn’t getting any feeding their brains are suffering from deprivation of nutrients why is it people with mental disorder the numbers are growing the food it comes right back to the diet our foods are of very poor quality why because there are more pushing the pretty then they packages putting a natural food well we know everything that is natural has a different taste it has its own steak yum steaks like yeah potatoes taste like potatoes vegetables like they are the tomato tastes different from the broccoli they let you stay different as its own flavor we need to bring our people back to that time the day is when he used to see someone just pick a leaf of lettuce and stand there and chew it and enjoy bite a tomato like a bite or a mango and eat it those days are gone because there are no program to eating false foods the sugary foods the salty foods that’s the program the the authorities know how the people are they were talking about children in school being hyperactive right and the reason for that is because the foods have too much sugar so we suggested to them in fact i suggested to them that they should replace the simple sugar with honey it was refuted by one of the politicians who said that one is too expensive but they are not thinking of the amount of money they are spending overseas to bring food into the island they should cut that and put some of that money into honey farming right now with the rest of the foods we have made some recommendations and we’re asking the government to look into these recommendations look into what we are talking about this is not something to play around with and they imperatives that we think should be put in place which i think will also endorse what well what our good doctor just stated one the jamaican government must adhere to the united nations declaration of the rights of peasants and others who live and work in rural areas two there must be no change of use of farmlands what we need is more farmers not less farmlands the government must invest and create policies to protect organic farming and the farmers for all arab lands must be put into farming and farmers markets must be established in each parish with proper facilities five finally the safety of our foods must be the top priority of the ministry of agriculture now these are the imperatives as farmers we recommend to the jamaican government which when implemented will provide food safety for all jamaican people we definitely want to keep our people healthy with good food not sickly with imported garbage and technologically farmed foods thank you very much for allowing me to make this presentation and i hope we can go from here that gets stronger and stronger excellent excellent powerful presentation from from errol mr grand marathon runner walk the walk and talk the talk that is it that is it so errol has put us to emphasize the differences between the rhetoric of particular government policies and um the actions the practice so there’s a gap you know um between the the the expectations that we have our of our representatives to lead us towards having healthy diets um being food secure and having our populations being able to look forward to health in every dimension mental health physical health environmental health to assure us that these things are at the top of their agenda so mr era grant has made a very forceful appeal for the government to halt which is being reinforced by um mr dr stanberry to halt unsustainable practices reverse practices that are taking us backwards rather than forwards and to really to transform the way in which we look at food the way in which we think of technology being applied to food and how it is that we are moving forward as a country as a people within the jamaican context but internationally everything that was said today i must say is reinforced by the the the latest state of the food security and nutrition for the world 2020 report which speaks to transforming food systems for affordable and healthy diets so we are not speaking from a narrow insular perspective we are resonating with a world that is saying our food systems are in crisis we are in crisis the world is in crisis but it is a man-made crisis it is not a divine crisis it’s something that we could change if we were able to do what we need to do one of the fundamental questions that errol asked are they aware are they aware of the effects of the actions that are being taken and he also emphasized the psychological stress of being in a situation where you’re not being looked after and you’re eating unhealthy food as he says garbage food rather than good food that is leading to the impact as i pointed out earlier on our children so micronutrient deficiencies that impact on your aspects of full healthy and well-being so this this whole issue of people being scared of the food that they’re they’re in taking but also scared of the political and the policy context that is supposed to be supporting them so we should not ignore the psychological dimensions of food security as much as we’re focusing on the physical dimensions and the geopolitical or local political economy dimensions so it was really excellent presentations we have um around 15 20 minutes to go um for this session so we’ll open the floor now for questions i’m going to ask christina dortray to um speak to the comments in the chat world whereas i will begin the process um by looking at the q and a’s in our q a box so the first the first comment comes from mr dr anthony richards um it is a um it is not a question but it is more a request for a comment he says the idea of collecting aki for canon from a large and diffuse population of women and men growers seems in some ways preferable to the situation in can callaloo which involves very few farmers the stringent control of pesticide pesticide use in color loop production restricts the harvest to a handful of maybe five male farmers who can provide a good agricultural practices that is a gap practices which is the paperwork required for canning for export could you please comment i don’t know if dr um stanbury you wanted to comment on that yes sure thank you very much so um i’m not necessarily saying that we shouldn’t go around collecting from individual farms the point i was trying to make is that if we had orchard we could increase the volume of export um considerably um that’s one um some other things that we import okay this doesn’t apply to activity as aki’s semi process before we export it and canned but some of the things that we import like mangoes it doesn’t suit us to do it collecting two toolboxes from farms etc because we are not able in those instances to ensure the same quality in terms of phyto-sanitary standard disease and pest monitoring and what you refer to as gap for that reason we had to suspend some years ago voluntarily suspend um exports of mango because getting two boxes from this farm too from that farm we just could not control the fruit fly um in an orchard setting um it’s it’s far easier to control so with after there is no issue really to collect two two bucks on people because we do process the active before we send it so there are no real fighter center concerns i was just trying to make a point that if we had orchard we could frankly speak speaking um do so much more in terms of experts thank you um dr stanberry our next question comes from mr horace levy will corn and sorghum production locally mean higher prices for chicken and beef if even if this is true is it still preferable to to import in green if so why i i think that there is wisdom in producing at least a portion of the corn and soda that we use for animal feed i said from two perspectives one when a real crisis hits as it did in 2008 over 30 net food exporting countries pakistan and others vietnam etc the first thing they did uh was to was to implement what we call export ban so in a crisis you cannot have an industry that depends so much on on an animal feed um importing everything we have to have some critical portion of it being um being been grown here for for strategic purposes and that is what i’m trying to say we are trying to we must try to save god that’s one two we our chicken meat for instance is very expensive here in relative terms because few people know that the duty on imported chicken whole chicken is way over 200 that is what we did to protect um the local boiler industry so i mean that results in us being more of a boiler feed but we have to juxtapose that with the employment and the livelihood created by the plethora myriads of people who in their backyard grow this chicken and supply jamaica violence so it’s a trade-off and as a country we have to engage that debate thank you so much for your comments dr stanberry um next question i’m going to field it uh i think she’s the question is is it not possible to reduce our food import bill by more than 30 to 40 percent um i don’t think we can sustainably go beyond that um but that’s that that’s sort of a minimum because a lot of what we we won’t be able to do to the short run because a significant part of the food import these are actually items that if we withdraw them in a sort of precipitous way a sudden way we’re going to um leave a huge section of our population um plunge in in hunger we’re talking about the chicken bark the chicken parts the tin mackerel the banga mary fish um and those kind of things the flour the cornmeal the rice which are stable so it will take us some time to develop the capacity to produce those so i would not recommend you know just shutting down everything overnight the 40 percent i spoke to are those things for which we have a competitive advantage we can in fact replace those imports without forcing higher prices for local production and our consumers okay dr stanberry we have a comment in the chat before we continue with the question and answer it says are the figures of irrigable agricultural lands including the upcoming destruction of the rich arable lands about to go to housing at bernard lodge how much will this take away from our avail our ability to grow food and our food security um it doesn’t because um the nine percent includes the bernard lodge era which is now fully irrigated and that is the tragedy of what is being done with brothers large lands not only are they the most fertile lands but they are the lands most equipped with irrigation infrastructure it is really a travesty to put those lines into uh into production so if we take up those lands we will be below the nine percent and if we lose our arab land and we lose our irregular infrastructure it will detrimentally impact our food security um yeah mr grant this question for you the use of pesticides is so widespread in jamaica how likely is it that organic farming will be extreme organic produce is is be used by is done by a small group and the cost is out of reach for most so how do you think organic farming will be more accepted by farmers okay uh with organic farming we create our own pesticides from herbs there are herbs that we can use to spray our plants we don’t need chemicals in fact our own scotch bonnet pepper is a very good herbicide it’s a very good insecticide sorry and we can use uh the same fruit that we produce on the farm to protect the rest of the plants they they they know this this this is not anything new to them and we have been saying to them all australia we don’t need chemicals we just need equipment so just create the facilities for us to get whatever equipment we need and we can produce organic farming is what jamaica started out with i’m coming from the days when people use ashes to kill insects and the ashes do work wherever you burn the leaves you take those ashes and sprinkle on the plant and that kills insects right it’s cut boiling pepper you cut up this cut boiled pepper put into a drum of water and you use that water and spray the plants so it prevent worms from coming onto the plants no we have the neem the neem is another good insecticide so we just need the government to invest with us and not invest with overseas and my follow-up question to that mr grant do you think that farmers locally want to do organic farming do you think it’s something that they’re trending towards no they actually are asking for that that they would prefer to do that these most of the farmers they’re the real farmers i’m talking about because you have the commercial farmers different from the natural farmers you know right the natural farmers prefer to grow their food without fertilizer they prefer to grow their foods without insect sprays they prefer to grow their foods from natural seeds because the chemical seeds only give you one crop and after that you have to go and buy seeds again now when you use it the organic seeds you can get organic seeds from the plants from the from the fruits say you set them and plant them again so you keep replenishing your crop then in fact you know if organic farming cost less than technological farming it’s just that they are not investing with these fathers thank you thank you great points indeed and dr stenberg before you go we have a question posed to you by mr horace levy have you calculated the cost of a good program for raising the kind of agriculture you would design is it feasible at least if our national priorities were sensible so i think they’re asking do you think the type of agricultural landscape you would like to see if it’s economically feasible yes it is [Music] significant elements of what i speak to have been costed we for instance have had a national irrigation development master plan from as far back as 1998 that has really costed out what it would take to irrigate uh the entire um all the irrigable lands in jamaica the truth is and um we has never had a big break in terms of concentrated investment as a country we have determined that our road infrastructure is important and we have spent billions on road infrastructure literally because we have deemed a priority when was the last time as agriculture had a break the very irrigation schemes we’re talking about in rio cover have largely been left to us um from the colonial days we have not invested in the kind of infrastructure that will make a qualitative difference and as a country we need to do that do you know for instance that the black river all the issues we are having in salt manchester south central elizabeth are related to persistent drought year after year those people have been engaged in what we call dry farms do you know that the black river could irrigate all of that area which is our main crop growing here in jamaica we have been bold enough to run roads through um the mountains going from north to south of jamaica why couldn’t we do the same thing um with a massive irrigation system inside sent elizabeth so we need to take a different look on agriculture a long-term look i mean it is a shame that in this day and age we are being retreated 220 000 farmers who are on hillside with scantregard and those are the people who ensure that we can get up tomorrow morning and go to coronation market and get a range of food that we can eat eat and be healthy so we need to treat agriculture better and it’s not a subsistence business we need to put money in it since cable tv has come around do you realize that without fun fear we have outfitted the infrastructure to distribute cable wires all over this country without one cent um from government look at bpo we have found money to build the bpo infrastructure and provide the species of people to operate and why do we keep treating agriculture like a cinderella look at tourism we have built on the grill we have put in the best infrastructure roads lighting you name it it’s time for agriculture to get a break point um dr stanberry i want to thank you for your really informed passionate and deliberate presentation um as well as mr errol grant for his direct commentary speaking to the things that are the list of demands that the farmers have for our government to stop the practices of reducing access to arable land by the farmers and to put on their priority number one safe food for our community certainly what has been raised in the both presentations is the absence of strategic planning um the pre the the one one of the challenges that we have is that we don’t have the effective implementation of a national spatial plan that is sensitive to the issues of climate um change climate resilience and disaster risk reduction um as mr stanbury pointed out in his final comment we need to take a different look at agriculture we need to stop treating the farmers without respect we treat them with scant regard and we need to take a very focused look on how we invest in our activities that relate to rural and agricultural development we need to put the money where our mouth is right we need to stop investing planting concrete rather than planting food so we need to have a serious investment strategy portfolio that is not just directed to the few who have the majority of the land as was emphasized by dr stanberry that 75 percent of the farmers inhabit only 15 of our land and the rest is dominated by the larger farmers and medium-sized farmers so while we have um a role for different scaled levels of farm activity we need to make sure that we don’t marginalize the smaller farmers the ones who are on the one one one hectare of land who are being pushed from the time of plantation economy and plantation society systems onto marginal lands over tax overburdened and not given a respect instead they are really treated with scant regard as dr stanberry has emphasized so our rural research cluster is certainly um focused on trying to put the agenda spotlight on flea in the plantation for sustainable food systems and i just want to thank our presenters and our support system um in particular i want to thank christina dortry who so ably jumped in when my paw was disconnected to continue the line of questioning christina is a phd graduate student at the university of west indies in the department of geography and she’s also working on a regional food insecurity project as a as a global challenges research funded um project that is is that she’s working with with me on on on food insecurity in a time of climate change so i think we’ve had i think which could have taken a lot more questions um but i think or and if there are any questions that we didn’t address um christina but i don’t want to necessarily vote um any any any burning comments but given that i had um lost power some of the questions in the chat um i were were lost to me so i’m not sure if all the questions were addressed but if there are any burning questions or issues certainly we can continue the conversations in our in our subsequent um speaker series and i just wanted to highlight that we also have a new email that you can contact us at which is yui sally says dot srad at gmail.com so uwi s-a-l-i-s-e-s dot s-r-a-d at gmail.com so you can contact us and um we’ll be willing to entertain your questions and have offline discussions and continue the conversations there um so i’d like to know um turn the the the session back over to our chair who will thank um additional individuals um i also wanted to show to mr orion oren spence who did the posters and mr richard leach who did the technical assistant um managing this zoom platform and getting us all integrated and ready for the for the discussions that we had today mr errol grant um he was disconnected he’s just joined us again so errol we were wrapping up uh the conversation but before we do i would just like to give perhaps our presenters um the final word before we turn over to the chair so errol if you had any questions yourself that you wanted to throw open to us or final word please do so now i’ll give you each around one minute one to two minutes to wrap up and then we’ll ask um dr williams to close the show okay thank you doctor not over again um what i would like to say is that um we should um continue this this movement in getting our farmers settled because that’s that’s the aim getting all farmers settled and to get the government to see and to to to believe in us as farmers and not believe in farmers overseas because what they are doing is not what we do and we are more concerned with the health of all citizens than those people are they are more concerned with their profits right and that is what is ruining us jamaicans were once upon a time thought of us very healthy people no we can’t say that a lot of diseases are broken out in jamaica which were not here before and it is as a result of our diet so this forum should see to it that whatever we say pertaining to our farms or farmers or citizens or country continue we should continue it and take it to the highest level if it means we have to go to even the human rights court then we should because it is imperative thank you it is imperative um certainly we have seen that these issues are not fab being fabricated they are real they are concrete and the documentation the evidence is there so it’s a question of appropriate policy direction at this point for the medium the short run the medium and the long run but what we do know is that the current trajectories within the jamaican economy where the rising food import build the higher levels of non-communicable diseases chronic diseases and the um the lack of respect that is going to the farmers with the dispossessions and displacements in bernard lodge that has been highlighted by both speakers that all of that needs to be stopped and a new direction taken if we if we are serious and we are willing to walk the walk and talk the talk at the same time so thank you all for your time i’m now going to turn it over to um dr williams the chair of our cities seminar series to close our proceedings uh thank you very much um dr natal um all that is left for me is to say a big thank you to the audience for asking such pointed and relevant questions thank you the presenters thank you the moderator and big thank you to everyone who works in the background richard christina samara irene irene everybody that makes this um webinar such a success and i’ll see you at the next webinar in the speaker series thank you very much for your presence thank you very much for your attendance thank you very much richard and t goodbye for now thank you everyone thank you panelists thank you everyone thank you for having me thank you for those who attended next one september the 1st keep it in your diary okay okay


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S/RAD Speaker Series - COVID 19: New Imperatives for Food Security
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