‘The Right to Food’ is as the theme for World Food Day 2007, to be observed on Tuesday, October 16.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) World Food Day and Special Initiatives Branch (KCIW), this is in light of the “increasing recognition by the international community of the important role of human rights in eradicating hunger and poverty, and hastening and deepening the sustainable development process”.

Deeming the right to food a “universal right,” the Communications arm of the KCIW explained: “It means that every person – woman, man and child – must have access at all times to food, or to means for the procurement of food, that is sufficient in quality, quantity and variety to meet their needs, is free from harmful substances, and is acceptable to their culture.”

According to the FAO body, this definition is “based on the assumption that hunger and malnutrition are caused, not just by a lack of available food, but also by poverty,  income disparities and lack of access to health care, education, clean water and sanitary living conditions”.

In this regard, sovereign states have been charged with the primary responsibility of fostering the realisation of the right to food. “They must take steps, to the maximum of their available resources, to realise progressively the

Full enjoyment of the right of every person to adequate food, without discrimination of any kind,” the FAO said.

It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the FAO, has been working assiduously to foster food security through the staging of greenhouse and other agricultural projects across the island. One of the key projects launched during last year’s celebrations was an FAO Food Security/ Cariforum Greenhouse, housed at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall, Christ Church office.

Another initiative aimed at increasing the level of interest in regional food security issues is a regional Youth Food Security project targetting persons, aged 18 to 25.  The FAO-led initiative requires entrants to prepare a ‘Regional Policy and an associated Plan of Action to Engage Youth

Entrepreneurs in Agriculture for Food Security’.  The 15-page submissions must be received by the respective FAO Representative or Chairperson of the National World Food Day Committee not later than October 10, 2007.

In an effort to keep the issue of food security and the “Right to Food” high on the local agenda, the agencies have also collaborated with other partners to stage a week of activities in mid-October to celebrate World Food Day.

The activities will get under way on Saturday, October 13, at 6:00 a.m., with a 5-kilometre Walk and Breakfast organised by the Ministry. Check-in time for the event is from 5:00 to 5:50 a.m. The event will start and end at the Animal Nutrition Unit, The Pine, St. Michael, and cash, trophies and food prizes will be available to winners in all age categories.

Walkers are advised that there will be no registration allowed on the morning of the event, and persons interested in registering, may do so from Monday, October 8 to Friday, October 12, at the Ministry or the Animal Nutrition Unit.

On Sunday, October 14, a World Food Day service will be held at the Sharon Moravian Church at 9:30 a.m. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Erskine Griffith, is expected to deliver a brief message to mark the occasion.

On Tuesday, October 16, World Food Day, school children will come under the spotlight with the judging of World Food Day exhibits at select schools. On the following day, Wednesday, October 17, members of the public will get the opportunity to view the FAO Food Security/ Cariforum Project at Graeme Hall when an open day is held at the facility.

Business persons, farmers, agriculturalists and other interested persons will get the opportunity to learn more about the World Food Day theme on Thursday, October 18, when a panel discussion on this topic takes place at Almond Bay, Hastings, at 7:30 p.m.

Panellists will include representatives from the Ministry, the FAO and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, the farming sector, and the economics fraternity.

The curtain will come down on the celebrations on Saturday, October 20, with the World Food Day Awards Ceremony at the Pom Marine Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church at 7:00 p.m. Workers in the agricultural sector will be rewarded for their contribution over the year during the ceremony.

Persons interested in nominating agricultural practitioners are reminded that the deadline for nominations is Friday, October 5.

The FAO has charged that ensuring  everyone enjoys adequate food on a permanent basis “is not only a moral imperative…but the realisation of a fundamental human right”.

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