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JM | Sep 7, 2021

Jamaica undertaking major assessment of its food systems

/ Our Today

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Assessment being undertaken ahead of global UN Food Systems Summit later this month in New York

(Photo: Twitter @FloydGreenJA)

Jamaica is undertaking a major assessment of its food systems to identify future interventions to improve the development and sustainability of the country’s food supply.   

This assessment, which will look at agricultural production and output, comes ahead of the global United Nations Food Systems Summit later this month in New York. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Union and the French Agriculture Research Centre for Development, in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica launched the food system assessment in the country in mid-July 2021.

The assessment aims to build a consistent, systemic, and integrated narrative reflecting a better understanding of the underlying causes and drivers of Jamaica’s food systems. As part of the assessment, the government is now holding a work shop on consultations around the assessment being done in Jamaica.

Workshop another step in the assessment process

The workshop is organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. It is another step in the assessment process, which seeks to develop a shared view of Jamaica’s food systems, identifying future interventions to improve the development and sustainability of the country’s food systems.   

The findings from the stakeholders’ consultation workshop will be summarised in a Food Systems Assessment Technical Report and Policy Brief. The findings could feed into future food systems policies and investments in Jamaica and inform the high-level Food System Summit 2021 to guide future action under the global food systems transformation agenda and post-summit agenda.

Floyd Green, minister of agriculture and fisheries.

The consultation workshop is one of many being organised across the Caribbean with food systems assessments being carried out in over 50 countries across the world.

The opening ceremony for the workshop was addressed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green; European Union Chargé d’affaires, Fredrik Ekfeldt; United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Garry Conille; and FAO Representative for Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize, Dr Crispim Moreira.  

Over 50 stakeholders representing the government, international organisations, private sector, academia and non-governmental organisations is now gathered for the consultation workshop on “Catalysing the Sustainable and Inclusive Transformation of Food Systems in Jamaica”.

EU’s Green Deal Strategy

The workshop is at the heart of the assessment and in building consensus among diverse food systems actors on the multi-dimensional issues related to the sustainability of the country’s food systems. The assessment is in line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, a central component of the EU Green Deal.

The strategy provides a comprehensive approach to developing a global food system that is fair, healthy and environmentally friendly. Modern food systems are currently failing to fulfill their purpose of providing nutritious and healthy food and contributing to enhanced livelihood opportunities in an inclusive and sustainable way.

While the Caribbean region produces enough food to potentially feed everyone, the triple burden of malnutrition, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases are on the rise. In Jamaica, this is further compounded by an approximate 30 per cent food loss and waste within the agri-food system.

Explanation of food loss and waste in Jamaica

There is also a lack of efficient agro-processing systems, insufficient storage for produce, challenges with transport and marketing networks resulting in persistent marginalisation of small-scale producers. These challenges trigger an endless cycle of precariousness and poverty, which result in a need for an inclusive and sustainable transformation of Jamaica’s food systems if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The consultation workshop is a step in promoting this sustainable and inclusive transformation in Jamaica. The stakeholders will identify levers that can lead to sustainable food systems as well as key constraints and entry points for innovative policy and investment priorities for the transformation of the country’s food systems.

The workshop also aims to frame a policy and investment agenda as well as guide future support programmes of FAO and the EU. They include value chain development, food and nutrition security, resilient and sustainable livelihoods, sustainable landscape management, industry development, forestry budget support, among others.

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