August 2, 2017: Each year, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day (WFD) on October 16th with a new theme to create greater awareness of pressing issues. The theme for 2017 is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” WFD is held annually to commemorate the founding of FAO in 1945. The FAO states that ‘one of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. The world’s poorest - many of whom are farmers, fishers and pastoralists - are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency in weather-related disasters. At the same time, the global population is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, agriculture and food systems will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable.’
The local celebrations of World Food Day 2016 were led by the World Food Day National Committee of Trinidad and Tobago of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (WFDNCTT), a Committee that is entrusted to pursue constructive action addressing food related issues in Trinidad and Tobago. The activities, thus far, have included a Plant Torch Ceremony, Tree Planting Ceremony and a Massy sponsored ‘Run for Food’ Charity event.
The Plant Torch Activity is similar to the handover of the Olympic Torch, where it passes through several countries before arriving at its final destination, likewise two Balata Plants made a journey through several primary schools across Trinidad. The World Food Day National Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (WFDNCTT) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries in partnership with Massy Stores, asked 4H students from seven primary schools to care for the plants for a week. Schools involved in the activity were: Siparia Hindu Primary School, Cedros Government Primary School; Sisters Road Anglican Primary School; Exchange Roman Catholic Primary School; and St. Thomas Primary School. The balata plant (mimusops balata) – belongs to the same family as sapodilla – was chosen because of its inviting colour of yellow, orange or purple but more importantly that it symbolizes food security and nutrition and is well known throughout the island of Trinidad and Tobago. When the plant is grafted it can start bearing after 2 ½ - 3 years however for normal seeds it can take between 5 – 7 years.
The Plant Torch activity culminated in a Tree Planting Ceremony on April 5th, 2017 at the Royal Botanical Gardens where the tree was planted with the assistance of the school children, Senator the Honourable Clarence Rhambarat, Minister of Agriculture Land and Fisheries, Senator Avinash Singh, Parliamentary Secretary, Lystra Fletcher-Paul, the Food and Agriculture Organisation Representative and other guests.
The Run for Food event is similar to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) International Hunger Run celebrated in Europe and North America in recognition of World Food Day (WFD). Events such as ‘Run for Food’ promote worldwide awareness and a call to action for those suffering from hunger and the need to provide food security and healthy diets for all. Massy Stores in partnership with the World Food Day National Committee (WFDNCTT) organized a 5k Run/Walk, a warm up, an aerobic burn out, a plant clinic, and a mini exhibition farmers’ market at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Also samples of goat milk ice cream, watermelon, Crix and tuna, and others were given out for the public to taste. Almost 2000 persons took part in the event including Senator the Honourable Clarence Rhambarat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Dr. Lystra Fletcher Paul – FAO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Derek Winford – CEO of Massy Stores, and members of the WFDNCTT.