Jamaica undertakes major assessment of its food systems ahead of global UN Food Systems Summit

Another important event tomorrow: the opening of consultations in Kingston on an assessment of Jamaica’s food systems – in other words, agricultural production and output. The workshop is organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. You can watch the opening ceremony on the PIOJ’s Facebook page tomorrow (Tuesday, September 7) at 9:00 a.m. Jamaica time.

There are all kinds of issues associated with food, these days: there is not only food security (how are we going to feed ourselves?) but there is an environmental aspect (more and more so) to food production. Then there is food storage and food processing. Then there is food waste – a terribly important but often ignored issue. Just a couple of days ago I watched this very informative and thought-provoking feature on Al Jazeera on the latter topic, and I recommend it. There are solutions…

So, what is the way forward?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Union (EU), and the French Agriculture Research Centre for Development (CIRAD), in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica launched a 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. The workshop, another step in this process, seeks to develop a shared view of Jamaica’s food systems and identify future interventions to improve the development and sustainability of the country’s food systems.   

A field in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. (My photo)

The Opening Ceremony for the workshop will be addressed by: Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Honorable 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.  

And here’s more from the FAO:

Kingston, September 3, 2021. On the heels of its participation in the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit held in July 2021, the Government of Jamaica, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union (EU) is carrying out a large-scale assessment of its food systems.

Over 50 stakeholders representing the government, international organizations, private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations will gather virtually on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 for a consultation workshop on “Catalysing the Sustainable and Inclusive Transformation of Food Systems in Jamaica”.

Organized by FAO, the EU, and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Planning Institute of Jamaica, 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.

A field in St. Elizabeth. (My photo)

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. Whilst the Caribbean region produces enough food to potentially feed everyone,  the triple burden of malnutrition, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are on the rise. In Jamaica, this is further compounded by an approximate 30% food loss and waste within the agri-food system. There is also a lack of efficient agro-processing systems, insufficient storage for produce, challenges with transport and marketing networks resulting in persistent marginalization 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.

Findings from the stakeholders’ consultation workshop will be summarized 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.

The consultation workshop is one of many being organized across the Caribbean with food systems assessments being carried out in over 50 countries across the world. More information on the food systems assessment process can be found by visiting www.fao.org/3/cb4848en/cb4848en.pdf  or  www.fao.org/food-systems/en

Watering crops by hand in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. (My photo)

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