Agricultural sector can produce more for school-feeding programme – Shaw
The agricultural sector can produce and make more local foods available to support students through the School-Feeding Programme, stated Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw.
"There are several agricultural products in which we have already achieved 100 per cent market share that could be used in the School-Feeding Pro-gramme, such as carrots, callaloo, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, breadfruit, cassava, yam and green banana, just to name a few," Shaw said.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday as he made his contribution to a motion brought by Member of Parliament for Central Kingston Ronald Thwaites regarding the increased use of nutritious local produce under the School-Feeding Programme.
Shaw noted that if the School-Feeding Pro-gramme entered into contracts with specific farmers, "we could increase agricultural production, employment and farm income in rural areas".
The minister empha-sised that a very important food that should be incorpo-rated into the programme is sweet potato.
"It is a very healthy food for us to feed to our children while they are in school. Information passed to me indicates that sweet potato contains over 15 health benefits, including the prevention of vitamin A deficiency, improvement in vision, and the management of weight and diabetes," Shaw said.
He added that sweet potato can also help in the fight against certain cancers, assist to regulate blood pressure, prevent ulcers, and improve memory.
Shaw said that pumpkin puree is another important food that can be incorporated into the programme.
He noted that pumpkin puree contains 10 per cent of the daily requirement for potassium, which is needed to support a healthy digestive system. A cup of pumpkin puree, he added, supplies 3.4 grams of iron, a mineral that supports the immune system.
The minister pointed out that these crops are easy to incorpo-rate into the meal plans for children.