NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS — Farmers on Nevis were urged to make wise choices in their selection of food systems to ensure sustainability while guarding against negative impacts on the natural environment. The call came from Minister of Agriculture on Nevis Hon. Alexis Jeffers, when he delivered a televised address on NTV 8 on October 15, 2013, to mark World Food Day 2013 which is internationally observed annually on October 16.
This year’s theme “Healthy Food Systems” was defined by Mr. Jeffers as any process which involved production and composition of food and as such there was need for those involved to think about the food systems on Nevis and their impacts.
“If we are not careful and mindful, our food systems could be harmful to the environment. For example – our food systems use a lot of water putting a strain on our water supply. Therefore, it creates harmful greenhouse gases; it also creates a threat to biodiversity and ultimately affects every plant and animal on the planet. We will therefore need to rethink our food systems.
“Our aim should be to reduce the negative impact of our food systems on the natural environment. As such, we need to better understand how shopping choices affect farmers and we need to learn how to cut down on wastage of food [through] its transport, storage, in supermarkets and at our homes. It is incumbent on us, therefore, to develop food systems that are not only healthy but sustainable as well. To keep our food system healthy and sustainable, the charge must be led by our farmers and of course the Department of Agriculture,” he said.
According to Mr. Jeffers, farmers on Nevis should make certain that every component of the food system was planned and executed with the consumer in mind, since the health of the consumer depended on the health of the food system.
“The farmers must, therefore, be encouraged to utilise healthy food systems which would lead to healthier persons and ultimately a healthier nation. Farmers must be particularly mindful of their choices, usage and storage of pesticides, as these chemicals can impact negatively on the health of our food systems.
“With Pesticide Awareness Week celebrated early last month, it is my hope, that farmers and all who produce food would have taken on board all of the information that was disseminated, as we all strive to have more wholesome food being produced here on the island of Nevis. Furthermore, with a planned expansion of our tourism sector in mind and the need to grow more of what we eat and eat what we grow, food production would have to increase dramatically,” he said.
Minister Jeffers noted, that Ministry and Department of Agriculture believed the changes were not impossible to achieve in a manner which would offer farmers a fair return for their efforts and most importantly it could be done with minimal damage to the environment.
Notwithstanding, the Agriculture Minister acknowledged that new methods and technologies in all parts of the food system on Nevis were necessary for positive change.
“However, food systems would have to change for the better. We will need new methods and technologies in all parts of the food system. Food shoppers would also need to know about how their habits and choices affect farmers and the environment and I am confident that the technicians within the Department of Agriculture possess the expertise to advise our farmers on the way forward for the creation of healthier food systems.
“I take this opportunity to encourage the staff at the Department of Agriculture to continue to work closely with the farmers to get the desired results. All of us including farmers, agricultural technicians and householders have the power to help change our food systems by eating nutritious food and reducing the amount of waste we create. We can help in our small way to make our food systems healthier and more sustainable,” he said.
In conclusion, the Minister reiterated that food systems connected everyone on the island on the island and urged everyone to become part of a national effort for a healthier future that would lead to a better island.
“Food systems connect us all. Let us be part of a national effort that leads to a healthy future for ourselves and for our beloved island.
“Therefore, as we celebrate World Food Day 2013, let us be mindful of how we plant, harvest, process, package, transport, market, purchase, store and eat our foods. In essence, let us all recommit ourselves to encouraging or insuring that our food systems are both healthy and sustainable which will ultimately translate into benefits for all of us,” he said.