From Farm to Fork: Improving Food and Nutrition Security in the Caribbean
Improving the nutrition and health of CARICOM populations through sustainable agricultural technologies that increase food availability and diversity of food choices
CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) is an economic grouping of 15 developing countries in the Caribbean, many of them small islands, identified by FAO as experiencing food insecurity. These countries have a long history of reliance on exportation of plantation crops for economic development, but have paid limited attention to local food production, particularly vegetables and fruits. Additional constraints on vegetable and fruit production in CARICOM include seasonality and scarcity of water supply, inefficient use of land and agricultural technologies, and imperfections in market structures and incentives. Consequently, there is a high dependence on importation of energy-dense foods leading to low rates of consumption of vegetables, fruits and pulses, creating a paradox of obesity and under-nutrition, and threatening population health.
The project was conceptualized based on the release of two land-mark reports (the “Jagdeo Initative” and the Report of Caribbean Commission on Health and Development) adopted by CARICOM Heads of Government, and stressing the need for linkage between agriculture and human health to improve CARICOM development.
The overall goal of the project is to improve nutrition and health outcomes of CARICOM populations through an integrated, gender equal, environmentally sustainable systems approach to availability, safety and quality of food. Through a combination of socio-economic and community surveys, field research, and nutrition interventions in schools, the project addresses problems of land and water degradation, inefficient pre- and post harvest practices that underlie food and nutrition security. Innovations in inclusive market-oriented development and environmental management could lead to policy changes for sustained food security in CARICOM.
The project is regional in nature, and piloted in four countries (Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts & Nevis); it is multidisciplinary in scope, and its scientific merit lies in its “farm-to-fork” systems approach to human health. Project benefits include human capacity building through education and training and community sensitization programs for a range of stakeholders. A major expected outcome is a change in consumer behaviour towards the consumption of a more diversified diet of fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Leroy Phillip, McGill University, Canada
Dr. Isabella Francis-Granderson, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago.
Project Duration: March 2011 – August 2014
Funding: This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, and with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
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