With international food import bills expected to cross the trillion-dollar mark this year and the prices of most commodities up sharply from last year, many governments have put issues related to food and food security back on the front burner. "Global developments would suggest that we should be working towards feeding ourselves rather than leaving it to others to feed us," said Gregg CE Rawlins, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) Representative in Trinidad and Tobago."Therefore, we must first promote the possibility that we can, to a large extent feed ourselves...We have what it takes." Speaking at the launch of the IICA/CARDI Media Awards for Excellence in Agricultural Journalism, Rawlins said it was time to target development of key commodities which could go a long way in feeding our people.
He said it was important to explore possibilities for finding novel and creative ways of swaying taste preferences toward wholesome, nutritious and tasty locally produced foods, as well as adding value, from basic packaging to product transformation. Rawlins said it was also important to look at the potential for linking agriculture with industry, tourism, the environment and the health sector. He said there were great possibilities in "treating agriculture as an integrated system with the wider economy and not solely as a farming sector." He said local agriculture could contribute positively to a low carbon development strategy and reducing this country's carbon footprint; play a central role in natural resource management; and lead the way in adopting clean technologies and sustainable production systems based on rebuilding soils and applying natural or organic principles."There are also possibilities for Caribbean governments to provide sustained and meaningfully support to the agri-food sector through the adoption of appropriate policy frameworks and institutional arrangements at the national and regional levels," Rawlins said.
"We need to support the reform, retooling and modernisation of our institutions–our research institutions, our institutions for higher learning, our financing institutions, our science and technology institutions, our farmer organisations, our NGOs, our development partners to move from the realm of possibilities to the achievement of results on the ground." The IICA/CARDI awards are aimed at fostering a greater understanding of food security and related issues, encourage more informed reporting on agriculture and increase interaction and create new partnerships between the agriculture sector and the media.The awards period is March 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, and the competition is open to full-time and freelance journalists working in newspapers, radio and television, as well as new media.More information on the awards are available at the Web site www.iica.int/trinidadandtobago.