Importance of youth involvement highlighted at the launch of UG’s Institute for Food and Nutrition Security
(October 25, 2018) – “If we are to effectively create and disseminate knowledge on nutrition for safe, productive and sustainable societies, we need to develop our youth, bring them into the conversation and mechanics as it is the youth who will live with the consequences of hunger, poverty and climate change if these threats are not adequately addressed and mitigated.”
Those were the words of Minister of Education, Dr. Hon. Nicolette Henry as she addressed the gathering at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre for the symposium to launch the University of Guyana’s Institute for Food and Nutrition Security (IFANS).
Minister Henry said that when youths are empowered, they are enabled to become leaders of the future that will direct the agenda of the globe.
“My understanding is that the aim of the institute is to help to identify food losses from the farm-to-table and assist policymakers to develop and implement policies in nutrition, food storage, safety, transportation and related areas to improve the functioning of food systems” the Education Minister explained.
According to Minister Henry, the initiative has relevance to the importance of promoting lifelong healthy eating habits. She said that the Government of Guyana is promoting a number of interventions to yield favourable results through an integrated approach involving the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Social Protection, Finance and Education working together with bilateral and international partners.
Endorsing the initiative, Minister Henry said that it is an affirmation that the classroom is an essential cornerstone for an approach that is sustainable and capable of bringing lasting change.
Further, the Education Minister noted that the issue of food imports to the Caribbean region is too high and extremely high in some specific countries. She said that 11 countries in the Caribbean import more than 50% of food that they consume and in seven of those countries more than 80% of the food consumed is imported.
As a result of this reality, Minister Henry explained that food imports replace domestic supply, discourages domestic suppliers and undermines food and agricultural development.
She told the gathering of students, academics and other stakeholders that Caribbean countries need to increase their domestic food production capacity and output.
Moreover, Lecturer Mr. Gary Mendonca stated that IFANS is expected to be involved (in conjunction with the Faculties of Agriculture, Natural Sciences and Health Sciences and other Academic Units in UG) in human capacity development efforts at the national level.
He said that IFANS can build capacity in Food and Nutrition Security by mobilizing its technical expertise to train skilled workers for Food Production Systems, by increasing their knowledge, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills.
Today’s symposium focused on three broad areas of the mandate of IFANS which are research, teaching-learning and outreach.
Other participants at the symposium included representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Banks DIH Limited, officials from the Ministry of Public Health, University of the West Indies, Indiana University, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, CARICOM, Ministry of Agriculture.