Deputy P.M. tackles food security

Food security in Samoa was at the forefront of a panel discussion attended by Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (C.O.P 23) in Bonn, Germany yesterday.

“Access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food at all times has been recognized as a right for all people in our region by the Pacific health ministers, endorsing the vision of healthy islands as an overarching framework for health protection and promotion in the Pacific,” Fiame said.

At the climate change food security and nutritious challenge of Small Island Developing States and global Action Programme held yesterday, Fiame said Pacific islanders have traditionally enjoyed comparatively good food security. 

“This is mainly because they have secured food in a variety of ways including subsistence farming, trading and selling products, fishing and hunting. 

“Now, this historic food security is being eroded by urbanization and a growing reliance on cheap and often poor quality imported foods that have little nutritional value.” 

The change in both supply and demand of food poses an increasing threat to food security which is reflected in the health of Pacific populations. 

“Imported foods that are of poor and nutritional quality are contributing to high rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. 

“Consumption of fruits and vegetables is low,” she said. 

Fiame says environmental shock also impacts food security. 

“With climate change, the maximum speed of tropical cyclones is expected to increase by up to 20 percent rainfall variation destabilizes croplands, agricultural lands are damaged, coastal areas are inundated, fresh water sanitized, tuna stocks are shifting and the incidences of diseases and health risks such as devalue fever and chikungunya is increasing.” 

She added the safety of imported food was also an enormous challenge for the Pacific because there was a lack of food safety laws and regulations.

Regarding fish and fishing which are the fundamental to life, Fiame says Blue Pacific is the mainstay of many economies in the Pacific. 

Threats are imminent through overexploitation and environmental degradation of marine and coastal habitats. 

“Climate Change seriously threatens the sustainability the fishing industry,” says Fiame. 

She also points to the importance of Forests which is often overlooked and in the context of food security; however it provides important staple crops such as breadfruit, mangoes and citrus fruits. 

In regards to agriculture, Fiame indicates that this subject is vulnerable to sectors particularly on yields and the type of crops that can be grown. 

“Some of the more acute risks to agriculture production include cyclone impacts, drought, emergence of new pests and disease vectors. 

“Attention is placed on the importance of farmers receiving the best available information and guidelines on the choice of crop varieties and soil and water management options.”

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