Minister Singh: “Food Security demands a shift in our perception of Agriculture”
October 16, 2020:- Making Trinidad and Tobago a more food secure nation goes beyond the implementation of specific initiatives. It demands a shift in our perception of agriculture from being a manually intensive, high risk, low reward activity to one that is essential to the well-being of the country. Such was the view of the Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator Avinash Singh as he brought Remarks at a Tree Planting Ceremony on Friday 16th October, 2020 (World Food Day).
The ceremony, which was hosted by the World Food Day National Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (WFDNCTT), took place at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Port of Spain, under the World Food Day 2020 theme: Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together. #Our Actions Our Future. It was attended by members of the WFDNCTT, each of whom participated in the symbolic planting of a Rambutan plant, which had journeyed across seven (7) schools throughout Trinidad, where it was nurtured by 4-H students for a respective period of one (1) week.
Reflecting on the Government’s Road Map to Recovery document, Minister Singh noted, that it was important to shift the culture of agriculture into one where “locally grown food is on the preferred taste palate of every citizen, fast food outlet, hotel and restaurant”. Equally important, he added, was the vision of agriculture as a profitable business activity.
“The overall goal should be one where our future food systems provide affordable and healthy diets for all persons, while also preserving natural resources and biodiversity and addressing challenges such as climate change”, the Minister said.
Also speaking at the ceremony was the Chairman of the WFDNCTT, Ms. Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh who said the issue of food security was even more a priority given the growing concerns regarding one’s access to sufficient, high quality food in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and its debilitating impact on the disposable incomes of families. This – according to her – when added to the 2019 food import bill of some $5.67 billion, gave credence to her national call for action. Ms. Kissoonsingh said: “As citizens we need to adopt a new mind set by supporting local producers, using the Earth’s resources more wisely, following nutritious and varied diets, and changing day-to-day actions with the aim of reducing waste and taking on a more sustainable lifestyle.”
Following the Tree Planting Ceremony, the WFDNCTT launched a Virtual Exhibition, displaying both the creative work of 4-H students who were actively involved in rearing the Rambutan plant during the first quarter of this year and a brief, historical overview of its ‘Plant Torch’ and ‘Run for Food’ events, through the years. To view the Exhibition, please see the following link:- https://www.artsteps.com/view/5f723393b102a65236b501db
The WFDNCTT is mandated by Cabinet, to create public awareness and guidance on the complex issue of ensuring food security for all, through a range of activities which highlight the World Food Day Theme for the particular year. The Committee comprises of representatives from both the public and private sectors which have responsibility for agriculture, food supply and consumption, rural development and education.