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More political commitment needed to eradicate hunger – FAO official

FAO Latin America and the Caribbean Representative Raul Benitez

A Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) official says more political commitment is needed to feed the 47 million people suffering from hunger in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean Raul Benitez was speaking to reporters at the ongoing Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) in Guyana on Wednesday.

He acknowledged that the region was leading in the fight against hunger and malnutrition but said he believed that the problem could be eradicated in this generation. Benitez added that what was needed now was the policy commitment and actions and he believed that that was the most important issue for CWA 2013.

“I’m not talking about political party commitment, I am speaking about the commitment of the whole society in this fight. This is the most important activity that we can do. The children cannot learn in school if they don’t have breakfast for instance.

A population that suffers from hunger is a population that is not healthy, it cannot work very well and we miss a lot opportunities for this reason so the fight against hunger is perhaps the most important activity that we can carry out in our countries,” he said.

The FAO official recalled that an initiative was launched at CWA 2012 in Antigua and Barbuda to eradicate hunger in that country and he said he believed that they were ready for a programme for all of the Caribbean countries.

“That is possible, it is not easy but it is possible.”

Meanwhile, Benitez said Guyana had the capacity to live up to the boast of being the “breadbasket of the Caribbean” and that his agency was committed to helping along that realisation.

“If you analyse the land condition here Guyana can produce more, not just for the country, Guyana can produce more for all the Caribbean countries,” he said.

Benitez added that the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Leslie Ramsammy had signalled the country’s commitment to this goal and that the FAO was ready to assist.

“In one way it would eradicate hunger and another way it is important to be more productive with the same resources and this is our commitment here in Guyana.”

Guyana was among 17 countries to receive FAO awards this year for reducing hunger and improving nutrition locally.