Statistics show that as the banana industry declines, a lot more food is being produced here, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says.
“Food, fruits, vegetables, small ruminants — the amount of food which the farmers have been providing,” Gonsalves said as he called on Vincentians to celebrate the nation’s achievement of halving undernourishment ahead of the 2015 target set by the United Nations.
“… where we should be doing something better than we are doing, let us talk about that; but celebrate also what we have accomplished as a people.”
He said more food is being produced in St. Vincent and the Grenadines even as its Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States counterparts have registered a decline.
“They have put so much emphasis on tourism and not on food that their undernourishment has increased, and, in some cases significantly, between 2000 and 2012,” Gonsalves said of the other nations in the sub-region.
He further called on Vincentians to have a scientific approach to conversations about undernourishment here.
“Let’s please just be scientific and stop the pulling down,” he said.
He added that while he has in the past criticised some women for their materialistic outlook, “Overwhelmingly, the women are good persons in the home, holding them together and feeding their families and we must pay tribute to them at this point.”
Gonsalves added that life expectance at birth has increased since 1995 but noted the impact of poor dieting on citizen’s health.
“I hear people say you are talking about undernourishment and you have people not eating the right foods, you have the amount of diabetes. That’s not undernourishment, that’s eating the wrong foods, and that’s the other direction now, which we have to address.
“So we not only have to address the quantity of food, we have to address the quality of food, which is a campaign, which we are having on issues of wellness — to eat proper foods,” Gonsalves said.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation in June recognised SVG and 37 other countries for halving undernourishment.
The latest estimates are that there are 5,000 undernourished persons here.