On June 16th, 2013 St. Vincent and the Grenadines was recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for our fight in reducing hunger and undernourishment. In fact, St. Vincent and the Grenadines received two awards:
- The achievement of Millennium Development Goal (1), which was to halve the proportion of hunger and undernourishment between 1990-92 and 2010-2012; and
- The more stringent World Food Summit goal set in 1996.
This was a significant reflection of an overall reduction of indigence nationally. The government has since embarked on a further quest to Zero Hunger, as articulated in our pledge to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number two (2) – which is to “Zero Hunger”. The establishment of the Zero Hunger Trust Fund has created an innovative model to address the issue of the reduction of hunger. I thank today the Zero Hunger Trust Fund for the contribution of 200 vouchers to farmers valued at $500 each, and $15,000 to assist with direct support of food supplies to several vulnerable families.
This Government and this Parliament through the establishment of a Parliamentary Front Against Hunger – the first English Speaking country to do so in the Caribbean and Latin American region, has made a commitment to fight hunger and undernourishment. Today, COVID 19 in all of its dimensions, has made large percentages of populations globally generally more vulnerable, and specifically, has made food accessibility and affordability issues of first importance in addressing the impact of COVID 19. Simply, all around the world, as a result of the COVID 19 triggered economic downturn many families have become vulnerable.
A national food supply chain has been established to assist vulnerable families with food supply packages. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines four (4) buying depots have become operational in:
- Langley Park;
- La Croix; and
- Rose Bank.
A fifth buying will be functional by the end of this week at Rillan Hill. Thus far, 5000 boxes of 100% locally produced food, bought from over 370 farmers have been distributed through Churches, Community Based and Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Ministries of National Mobilization, Education, Health and Agriculture. 3,500 families have benefited nationwide.
On the economic side, the farmers are receiving good prices; farm workers are employed; timely payments are made; truckers are transporting; persons have been employed to facilitate grading and packaging; boxes are being sourced locally. I take this opportunity to thank the non-governmental organisations for volunteering. The Churches continue to play a critical role. This programme will continue to benefit our people in various forms in years to come.
- The region and the world is watching! They are seeing a carefully crafted, planned, structured and conceived initiative that will assist the vulnerable.