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FAO targets reduction of hunger, obesity in region

Published:Thursday | March 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) JosÈ Graziano da Silva has called for governments within Latin America and the Caribbean to take stock of what he described as the worrying situation of an increase in hunger and obesity that has taken place in the Latin American and Caribbean region over the last two years.

"Unfortunately, recently, we have seen a disturbing change in the numbers on hunger. The prevalence of undernourishment in the world increased in 2016. This includes here in Latin America and the Caribbean, moving from 40 million to 42. 5 million people," he stated.

With regard to obesity, he added: "The situation is also worrying here in Latin America and the Caribbean. The rate of overweight children under five years of age is about 70 per cent, exceeding the world average. Obesity has increased in all groups".

Against that background, he indicated that the FAO wants to promote a comprehensive and extensive debate with countries, civil society, and the private sector in the region to exchange ideas on the best way to tackle all forms of malnutrition. He intends that this consultation would occur during the FAO's 35th Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean now taking place at the Montego Bay Conference Centre from March 5 to 8, 2018. Da Silva made the comments as he addressed the second day of the four-day event.

Representatives from all 33 member-countries, inclusive of several ministers of governments within the region, are attending the conference.


Jamaica to access FAO funding


After two days of discussions at the 35th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, told The Gleaner that funding was now in place to assist in the formalisation of projects to alleviate the major issues.

"It was interesting that the reports coming from all three sub-regions highlighted the same things," Stanberry disclosed. "People are concerned that to combat the issues of food security, we need more investments in infrastructure and in public goods that can make for sustainable agricultural production, although we are disproportionately affected by climate change in terms of hurricanes. The other two sub-regions have their own impacts in terms of drought," said Stanberry.

He continued: "Everyone is crying out for more resources, particularly from the Green Climate Fund, and the FAO seems to have built the capacity in the organisation to assist member-countries to access these funds, and we are going to latch on to that."

Stanberry also revealed that the Government of Mexico had announced at the conference that it had set up a fund to assist English-speaking Caribbean countries, specifically to prepare projects for climate change funds such as the Green Climate Fund.

"We are happy for that because these funds are there in abundance, but it takes particular skills, frankly, to be able to prepare projects based on their stipulations," stated Stanberry.