Legal Document

Title: Food and Nutrition Security Policy
Type: Policy
Issuing Agency: Ministry of Justice
Responsible Agency: Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF)
Issuing Date: 01-03-2013

FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY POLICY

GOVERNMENT OF JAMAICA

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

and

Ministry of Health

March 2013


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

Low food production and high dependency on food imports combine to confront Jamaica with an unprecedentedly high and rising Food Import Bill (FIB) and a worrying food security vulnerability to external economic shocks and climate change.  Most of the food consumed in Jamaica is imported either raw or semi-processed for final processing, while a small and declining portion comes from national/regional production. At the same time a large and rising proportion of the final cost of that food to consumers is taken up by services – manufacturing, packaging, distribution and marketing costs. Thus, the food and financial crises of 2008 and 2009, and the resulting volatility of food prices that are currently above the previous highest level reached in mid-2008, have brought the national community face to face with the harsh consequences of its high dependence on food imports. This situation also renders Jamaica more vulnerable to external economic shocks. So when there is drought in the northern hemisphere or floods in Australia and Pakistan, as happened recently, the prices of wheat, corn and sugar jump to new highs on the world market leading to similar increases in the national food import bill. And the cost of local chicken and domestically produced livestock soars because Jamaica imports the raw materials (corn, coarse grains and soybeans) that are the basis of the animal feeds on which they are fed. At the same time, lack of access to food and its improper use have led to the emergence of the “double-burden” of malnutrition, which happens when both under and over-nutrition coexist in the same community. The diet of a majority of the population has shifted away from locally grown produce, with limited foods of animal origin, to diets consisting of more processed and energy-dense foods, more of animal origin, and more added salt, sugars and fats. Unfortunately, these new food consumption patterns have meant a shift in consumer preferences towards nutritionally poor diets that have led to the increasing prevalence of obesity, and nutritional related non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart diseases and some forms of cancers. These diseases, that are costly to individuals and to economies, are now one of the main national public health problems. They exist alongside persistent pockets of undernourished population that confront socio-economic inequalities limiting their capacity to obtain food (high levels of unemployment, poverty and income inequality and inequitable access to resources).  

Jamaica‟s food and nutrition security is also threatened by annual hurricanes, drought and floods and the spectre of climate change. Due to climate change, these cyclical natural events have increased in intensity over the recent past thus making Jamaica more prone to temporary food insecurity. Given the diverse ways in which climate change can affect food security, agribusiness entrepreneurs, including farmers, as well as policy makers, should focus on a number of key issues. Firstly, they should consider ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation measures) to lessen future effects of climate change. This can include activities such as the use of sustainable (both traditional and cutting-edge) technologies to reduce the reliance on imported inputs, and increasing the use of renewable energy e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels in all sectors, but particularly in the agricultural sector. Secondly, there should be a focus on the development of early warning systems (together with crop and livestock insurance schemes), which would be able to forecast periods of shortages, particularly for food production and the onset of extreme events. Thirdly, focus should be on finding ways in which Jamaican farming systems can adapt to climate change, particularly in reducing farmers‟ vulnerability. 

The National Food and Nutrition Security Policy 

To confront the above challenges to national food and nutrition security, this Policy and the subsequent Action Plan will provide the strategies, actions and framework within which these critical issues of food and nutrition security will be addressed.  

The policy is the result of an inter-ministerial consultative process started in 2010 among all ministries and state agencies which have a food security mandate so as to ensure that the national response should (i) address the areas of production, consumption and storage; (ii) provide coherence and coordination to the work of the many Ministries and State Agencies and the NGOs and private sector entities that work in these areas; (iii) not subvert the existing markets and the private sector; and (iv) ensure sustainability of the programmes and activities designed and effected.  

Food security plays a major role in the nutrition status of the population. Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security looks at food availability, food access, food consumption/utilization and stability of food supply. Therefore, the overall objectives of a food security policy are to ensure that all people have continued access to sufficient supplies of safe foods for a nutritionally adequate diet and in so doing achieve and maintain health and nutritional wellbeing.

Experiences in the region and elsewhere suggest that food production alone cannot guarantee food security and nutrition. Therefore, food security itself is treated in the policy as the output of a dynamic agricultural sector getting inputs from and providing inputs to the rest of the economy and to external markets. This is a departure from equating food security solely with food production and availability and recognizes the reality that food security is an integral part of the policies, strategies and actions of several sectors of the economy.  

Philosophy and Objectives 

The basic philosophy under-pinning food and nutrition security and the development of food production and allied services in Jamaica is defined as the achievement of the optimum degree of self-reliance through a strategy of feeding, clothing and housing the population, utilising to the greatest extent possible and feasible, indigenous raw materials and human and natural resources. In this context, the vision of the policy is that all Jamaicans at all times have universal physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life. To this end, the long-term goal of the policy is to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security and eliminate all forms of malnutrition, by ensuring the full protection and realization of the right to food for all Jamaicans and residents of Jamaica, in order to have a well-nourished and healthy population that can fulfil its aspirations to good health and economic well-being and effectively contribute to national economic development. 

More specifically, the policy will seek to: 

  • Ensure that a sufficient quantity of nutritious food of appropriate quality is available to all people in Jamaica, through increased domestic production and a sustainable level of imports (Food Availability).
  • Ensure that all individuals in Jamaica have access to adequate resources to acquire appropriate foods for a nutritious diet (Food Access).  
  • Ensure that all individuals in Jamaica reach a state of nutritional well-being through food choices and consumption that reflect Recommended Dietary Allowances (Food Utilization).
  •  Ensure that all people in Jamaica have access to adequate, safe and nutritious food at all times, are not at risk of losing access to it due to shocks, and consume/utilize foods that reflect physiological needs (Stability of Food Supply). The policy is delineated into four sub-sections, namely, food availability, stability of food supply, food access and food utilization. The main elements of each sub-section are highlighted below. 

Food Availability 

The objective of this pillar is to promote the sustainable production of safe, affordable, nutritious, good quality Jamaican food commodities/products. Under this pillar, it is being proposed that Government promote increased production of nutritious food at competitive market prices in a sustainable manner by creating an enabling environment to facilitate increased food production. Under this approach, priority commodities will be selected on the basis of the promotion of a nutritionally balanced diet comprised of local food products in line with the food based dietary guidelines. The cost efficiency of value added production for locally produced and imported semi-processed foods and livestock products and the improvement of food safety systems are also paramount to the thrust of supporting the food sector. 

One of the main underpinnings of this pillar is the enactment of a Food Security Law to ensure the domestic production of a minimum threshold of a selected basket of foods for which there is production capability and national comparative advantage to meet domestic food, nutrition and health goals. 

Food Stability 

The objective of this pillar is to improve the food and nutrition security resilience of the national community to natural and socio-economic shocks and climate change. It is recognized that there are recurring threats to food security, and that their intensity is exacerbated by climate change, the effects of which can be mitigated, and for which adaptation is essential to build resilience to this evolving threat. In this regard, the pillar emphasizes the implementation of adaptation and mitigation strategies as a means of enhancing the stability of food security.

To this end, therefore, policy recommendations include: 

  • Promote the creation of an Information System for Food and Nutrition Security (ISFNS) for food security development, as well as food crisis prevention and risk management and the construction of adequate risk profiles for the main crops;
  •  Pursue climate resilient development which focuses on adaptation as well as mitigation strategies for the food and agriculture sector;
  •  Enhance the capacity of relevant institutions to provide climate related information in collaboration with relevant regional bodies;  
  •  Integrate climate management considerations into the National Agricultural Disaster Risk Management Programme;
  •  Reduce the impact of climate change on food production;
  •  Utilization of vulnerability analysis and mapping to provide timely nutrition and socio-economic information on vulnerable population groups to decision-makers to enable the design of more effective emergency and relief responses; 
  • Develop comprehensive agricultural insurance and risk transfer schemes;
  • Subscription to a national and regional disaster fund. The pillar also places emphasis on disaster risk mitigation and response mechanisms by proposing a national network of emergency food stocks for a minimum of three months, emergency food plans for vulnerable groups and households and contingency plans for recovery and rehabilitation in areas prone to natural disasters.  

Access to Food 

The objective of this pillar is to ensure access of households and individuals to sufficient, nutritious affordable food at all times. The pillar recognises the challenges facing individuals and families vulnerable to food insecurity. It proposes food security interventions that will ensure the target food insecure population gains access to productive resources to improve their livelihood status. Where a segment of the target food insecure population is unable to gain access to productive resources, then food security interventions will ensure that this segment gains access to income and job opportunities to enhance its power to purchase food.

Food security interventions proposed in this pillar are geared to ensuring that the targeted food insecure population is empowered to have nutritious and safe food. Where another segment of the target food insecure population is still unable to access sufficient food because of disability, extreme conditions of destitution – food security interventions will ensure that the state provides relief measures that may be short-to medium-term and/or on a sustained basis, depending on the nature of given interventions. It is proposed that interventions be underpinned by analysis that is grounded on accurate information and that their impact be constantly monitored and evaluated. 

Food Utilization/Consumption/Nutritional Adequacy 

The objective of this pillar is to promote nutritionally adequate, safe, affordable dietary intakes and other positive lifestyle behaviours throughout the life course. The pillar recognizes the challenges facing the Jamaican population with respect to increasing levels of obesity, non-communicable chronic diseases, persistent iron deficiency anaemia and pockets of under nutrition. This pillar therefore aims to:

  • Promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding practices;
  •  Promote consumption practices consistent with the national population dietary goals in line with international standards;
  •  Strengthen national nutrition surveillance systems in accordance with WHO standards, so as to monitor the nutritional status of the population and identify those at risk of nutrition related disorders;
  •  Develop and implement national guidelines on physical activity and dietary intake to promote health and wellness in schools, workplaces and communities;
  • Provide nutrition standards and guidelines to strengthen programme development and implementation in all sectors; and
  •  Implement policies and programmes to detect, prevent and manage all forms of malnutrition. 

Institutional Framework 

Due to the multidisciplinary nature of food security, it is proposed that an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Food and Nutrition Security (IMCFNS), chaired in rotation by each of the constituent ministries and having a permanent secretariat provided by the Ministry responsible for Agriculture, be established to ensure joint and concerted action in the formulation and implementation of the programmes and measures under the Food and Nutrition Security Policy. It is proposed that private sector and non-government organizations be integrated into this Committee, with the possibility of the Chair also being drawn from the former grouping. It is proposed that the Committee report to Cabinet. 

The IMCFNS may establish a secretariat to carry out the functions and responsibilities assigned to it by the Cabinet and would draw its funding, in the first instance, from existing appropriations in the constituent Ministries; this procedure may be varied in future to provide the IMCFNS with assured funding, which may be of domestic and/or international origin. 


 1. INTRODUCTION 

PREAMBLE 

Food security requires an available and reliable food supply at all times. At the global, regional and national levels, food supply can be affected by climate, disasters, war, civil unrest, population growth, lack of effective agricultural practices, and restrictions on trade. Government initiatives that encourage a policy environment based on macroeconomic stability and competitive markets can improve food availability. At the household level, food security is essentially a matter of access to food and its appropriate use to ensure the health of individual family members. 

Insecurity can be temporary or chronic. It may vary with age, status, gender, income, geographic location and ethnicity. Poverty is the main cause. Sustainable progress in poverty reduction is critical to improving access to food. Individuals need access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. They need adequate health services, a healthy and secure environment and a safe water supply. Food security is therefore closely linked to the economic and social health of a nation, society and individual. 

Good nutrition is essential for healthy and active lives and has direct bearing on intellectual capacity, which eventually impacts positively on national social and economic development. Underlying this principle is the practical application of appropriate diet and healthy lifestyles that, albeit a matter of individual choice, are dependent on stable and sustainable food security, knowledge on which to base nutritional choices, quality caring practices, healthy environment, adequate supplies of safe drinking water and accessible quality health services. Therefore in order to maximise the health and economic benefits for the population, there should be in place sound food and nutrition policies and strategies. 

Given the onset of climate change the world over, current import trends that increase „food miles‟ (the length of the supply chain and hence transportation costs), and dependency on imported food must be redressed. Moreover, traditional exporters of key agricultural commodities may choose to cut exports if droughts, floods or other natural disasters threaten their domestic markets. In 2007, droughts in Australia led to significant declines in dairy exports, which affected the availability of these products for the CARICOM consumer. In 2010, droughts in Russia resulted in reduced wheat exports which led to increases in global wheat prices. In 2012, drought in the northern hemisphere has once again reduced the availability of corn and wheat in international markets. Rapid price increases in these and other staples such as sugar, have had significant impacts on the Caribbean‟s food import bill. Wages have not risen to match higher food costs; therefore the price of food has risen in relation to that of other goods and services. Access to food, particularly for the most vulnerable, has been threatened. 

BACKGROUND 

Nutrition and Non-communicable Diseases

 1.1  The Caribbean, including Jamaica, is undergoing a diet transition from a traditional diet with a limited range of staple foods towards a high-energy diet with more animal protein, saturated fats, sugars and highly processed foods1. This diet, often consumed away from the home as street food, and at local fast food or “cook shops”, has resulted in a preponderance of over nutrition leading to obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor and a driving force in the prevalence of Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. 

1.2  Over the past decade, obesity levels have continued to spiral out of control with the prevalence of NCDs reaching epidemic proportions as demonstrated by the following data on NCDs and their risk factors in Jamaicans 15-74 years old2:

  • Diabetes: prevalence of 7.2% in 2000, increased to 7.9% in 2008
  • Pre-hypertension: prevalence of 29.9% in 2000 increased to 35.3% in 2008
  • Hypertension: prevalence of 20% in 2000, increased to 25% in 2008
  • Obesity: prevalence of 9.7% in 2000 increased to 25.3% in 2008
  • Physical inactivity: 17% of the population in 2000, compared with 30% in 2008 

NCDs account for approximately 56% of deaths in Jamaica annually, causing illnesses, disabilities, premature death, productivity losses, increasing costs of care, poor quality of life and poverty. Persons in the lower socio-economic groups bear the brunt of the impact, particularly those with diabetes and hypertension1. It is estimated that at least 5% of Jamaica‟s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) goes towards the treatment of diabetes and hypertension threatening our economic development2

1.3    Food security is being compromised mainly due to accessibility and consumption/utilization in Jamaica. Food insecurity may lead to weight gain and obesity as the less expensive foods tend to be high in calories and low in nutrients. In addition, households with limited resources tend to spend less on food overall and even less on healthy foods, which tend to be more costly4. Ensuring access to low cost healthy food options is paramount to contributing to the achievement of food and nutrition security and better health outcomes. 

1.4  It is noteworthy that women are disproportionately affected, as one in four Jamaican women is obese. In a study on Californian women, food insecurity was found to be associated with increased likelihood of obesity3. It follows therefore that Jamaican women are at increased risk. Moreover, many are the main breadwinners and heads of households (45.5%) and care for children and the elderly4. They also have to care for partners that suffer from NCDs and other debilitating conditions. 

Soaring Food Prices 

1.7  In January 2011, the FAO Global Food Price Index surpassed the previous high level reached in 2008 which had led to food riots and social instability in several countries. It is now clear from an analysis, recently carried out jointly by ECLA, FAO and IICA6, of the forces driving food prices (oil prices, expansion of ethanol production from corn, increased demand from developing countries such as China and India, climate change – giving rise to an increased frequency of natural disasters) that world food prices will continue to be volatile and remain at high levels in the foreseeable future. 

1.9  High food prices are of concern to the Caribbean region, especially for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food. In Jamaica, the impact and implications of the 2007-08 global food crises were many and varied and characterized by:

  • significant surges in domestic food price inflation, where food price inflation was higher than aggregate inflation and contributed to the underlying inflationary pressures;
  • increases in the poverty level through its direct impact on the indigence line, which is defined as the food component of the poverty line1;
  • erosion of purchasing power of consumers resulting in negative impact on vulnerable groups;
  • distributional effects in general on poor people, especially those located in urban areas; and
  • negative impact on the food trade balance and therefore the balance of payments situation.

1.10 Given this situation, there is a growing concern globally, in the Caribbean region and in Jamaica that measures to address rising food prices should be initiated immediately, taking into account the experience and lessons from the previous crisis. 

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

1.11  Food security is the foundation of social and economic development. In essence, it means that all people in a society have access at all times to enough food for an active and healthy life. Faced with rapidly rising hunger and weak synergy and coordination in the governance of global and regional food security, the Government of Jamaica (Ministry of Health) initiated in 2007 the development of a comprehensive and coherent national response to the food security crisis facing the country, directed at updating the 1978 Food and Nutrition Policy, the development of which had been spearheaded by that Ministry. 

1.12  Given the cross-cutting nature of the matters involved, it was agreed that the national response should (i) address the areas of food production, consumption, distribution and storage; (ii) provide coherence and coordination to the work of the many Ministries and State Agencies and the NGOs and private sector entities that work in these areas; (iii) not subvert the existing markets and the private sector; and (iv) ensure sustainability of the programmes and activities designed and effected. 

1.13  A Committee was established to carry out this work. In view of the importance of national food availability, the committee was chaired by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries with 4 sub-committees dealing with the four pillars of food security viz. availability, access, utilization and stability of supplies. The committee agreed to adopt a holistic approach to strengthen and coordinate expertise and action in the fight against hunger and food and nutrition insecurity. Indeed, given the varying dimensions of food and nutrition security, a collaborative effort by the ministries and NGO‟s with specific mandates in these areas is imperative. 

KEY POLICY CONCEPTS, CONCERNS, AND ISSUES 

Concepts underpinning the JFNSP/RFNSP 

What is food security? 

1.14  In the Caribbean, in reference to Food Security the definition that “all people at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996) has been agreed. 

1.15  This definition goes beyond the traditional narrow vision of both food selfsufficiency and the physical availability of food supplies over time and space, to include the socio-economic and nutritional aspects of having adequate economic and physical access to safe and nutritious food supplies. From this perspective, therefore, food security is an integral part of a process of nutrition and health development and embodies four major pillars: Food Availability; Food Accessibility; Food Consumption; and Stability of the previous three components.

1.16  Food security, in all its dimensions, is under constant threat in the Caribbean. Essentially, food security can be described as a phenomenon relating to individuals. It is the nutritional status of the individual household member that is the ultimate focus, and the risk of that adequate status not being achieved or becoming undermined. Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above.

Linking individual food security to national and regional policy - dimension of entitlements 

1.17  Individuals may acquire food in one of four ways1:

  • They may produce it for themselves (production-based entitlement), which may be particularly important, for example, for small farmers who aim for selfsufficiency. It can be affected by policies altering the demand for and supply of factors used in production, some of which will relate to international trade.
  • They may sell or barter physical assets (trade-based entitlement). Many farmers will augment their own production by exchanging either a surplus of some crops or an own-food product. The amount of food they can acquire will be influenced by policies that affect the level and variability of prices for food relative to what they are able to exchange.
  • They may sell their labour power (labour-based entitlement). Rural landless labourers and urban employees all need to buy or barter food in the market. Their food security is determined by the level and location of employment opportunities which, in turn, may be altered by trade policy.
  • They may receive informal gifts from individuals and formal transfers from government (transfer-based entitlement). These are important for those lacking other adequate means. Formal transfers such as food aid may be influenced by multilateral trade agreements.

 Contrasting Food Security and Nutrition Security 

1.18 Food security, as against food production, is concerned with access to food and is a component of nutrition security: a household is food secure if it can reliably gain access to food in sufficient quantity and quality for all its members to enjoy a healthy and active life. 

However, nutrition security is as concerned with food utilisation as it is with access. A household achieves nutrition security when it has secure access to food – that is, food security – coupled with a sanitary environment, safe drinking water supplies, adequate health services, and knowledgeable care to ensure a healthy life for all household members. In CARICOM, the problem is one of access to food, exacerbated by malnutrition, particularly over nutrition resulting in obesity and NCDs. It is clear then that the immediate, urgent problems concern household access and nutritional adequacy. This means a departure from equating food security with food availability. 

Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming 

1.19 Sustainable agriculture encompasses many different production methods, systems, and approaches that aim to meet the goals of profitability, stewardship, and quality of life. One of those approaches, but by no means the only one, is organic farming within the farming systems approach. Organic agriculture is generally considered to be under the sustainable agriculture “umbrella.” But it is not exactly a subset, since organic practices may conflict with sustainability goals in certain situations. Opinions differ on the relative importance of organic agriculture to sustainable agriculture and on how much research, education, and extension efforts on sustainable agriculture should be directed to organic agriculture. 

1.20 Three indicators (UN) that appear most frequently in a definition of sustainable agriculture are:

  • Environmentally sound
  • Economically viable  
  • Socially acceptable  

However, two other indicators were added in the formulation of the RFNSP, which are:

  • Technologically sound
  • Politically acceptable 

Food Security Interventions 

1.21 Food security policy is a set of government interventions, both direct and indirect, that are used to promote agriculture and food sector objectives by influencing the organizational and economic environment within which the food system functions. Food security policies must address all aspects of the food system, affecting the entire conceptual spectrum, ranging from production, marketing, processing, distribution, all the way to consumption and nutrition.

1.22 Food policy interventions require that both micro- and macro issues be addressed and must be so designed as to:

  • Resolve issues of malnutrition and food security;
  • Involve policy and programme design and implementation that cut across departmental divisions;
  • Consider a wide array of data that can be disaggregated down to the household level (or even to the intra-household level); and
  • Deal with conflicting policy objectives that arise between producers and consumer interests, urban and rural differences, primary and secondary production, budgetary prioritization between consumption support and investment in agriculture, and short- and long-term decisions. 

SITUATION ANALYSIS 

1.23 As the analysis in Appendix 1 shows, national agricultural production has stagnated in recent years despite increases in domestic demand for food. Food crop producers are characterized as having uneconomically small farms, low production and productivity levels, limited incorporation of new technologies, a high presence of small subsistence farming and a low recruitment and replacement rate (an ageing population group). These factors along with limited regional (CARICOM) cooperation within the sector have lowered the level of agricultural competitiveness, with the exception of sugar cane, rice and some tropical fruits such as citrus and bananas1.

1.24 Here, it should be noted that both private and public investment in agriculture has not increased significantly. This translates into a lack of services that affects the ability, particularly of small farmers and fishermen, to access and adapt new technologies and reinforce advantageous traditional practices and seriously constrains their resilience to climate change.2

1.25 Most small scale agricultural activity is rain-fed, as very little irrigation is used outside of the large commercial farms. This circumstance renders Jamaican agriculture particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the form of the increased frequency and intensity of droughts, storms and floods that result in crop losses. Key issues in respect of water resource development and management, water distribution systems and farmers‟ access to water in Jamaica are:  

  • Preparation of a national water policy based on an assessment of available water resources, and including allocation strategies which view food/agricultural production as an important economic sector.  
  • Development of a national water information system to provide reliable data to assess the available water supply and promote sustainable use of the resource.
  • Improving the availability and productivity of water at farm level through a strategic mix of irrigation systems development, integrated Agricultural Water Management (AWM) approaches and water management technologies in both rain fed and irrigated agriculture;  
  • Enhancing economic benefits while containing environmental impacts at local, watershed basin or national levels, as a result of increased use of innovations and technologies for enhancing the farm level productivity of water in the upper catchments;  
  • Improving incentives (such as trade) and governance mechanisms to bring about beneficial uses and management of water in the upper catchments while maintaining or improving water availability for downstream or ecosystem needs;  
  • Combining indigenous knowledge with cutting edge information technologies to develop the most appropriate decision support tools for different stakeholders (including individual resource users) to improve planning for sustainable use of water; and,  
  • In-building adaptation to climate change in all agricultural and water development strategies and programmes. 

1.26 Historically, domestic food crop production has been a by-product of export agriculture, largely relegated to marginal lands. At the same time, the marketing and distribution system, port and transport infrastructure and customs procedures were geared to facilitating food imports1. This has given rise to a strong and continuing national preference for imported agricultural goods and services that is now being further fuelled by changing lifestyles and tastes. Indeed, together with the vested interests that have arisen around it and the strong acquired taste and preferences for foods that are not produced in the region, this situation has resulted in declining levels of demand for local food commodities that have constrained the growth of the national food sector and the emergence of a vibrant food processing and distribution sector based on domestic food production.

Market Opportunities and Threats 

1.33 In light of these considerations, it is clear that, given the scope and nature of the above-mentioned challenges and the failure of piecemeal approaches in the past, a concerted, simultaneous and holistic approach will need to be taken, inclusive of all spheres of activity that impinge on the farming, food, health and nutrition sectors: legal and regulatory, institutional, fiscal, trade, industry and education policy inter alia, in order to create an enabling environment in which the productive energies in the farm sector may be released and encouraged, capital and labour are attracted to agriculture and the import bias in national food preferences is reduced. To this end, it will also be imperative to give a strong and unambiguous signal that the State intends to provide a stable and predictable fiscal, trade and regulatory policy environment for agricultural and livestock production in the medium term. This will generate opportunities for production and investment in the agriculture, food production, manufacturing and services sectors. These opportunities include:

  • the re-emergence of the primary production sectors-cocoa, coffee, bananas, spices, citrus and sugar as a source of raw materials for agro-processing;
  • the economic growth and expansion of the food manufacturing, marketing and service sectors with strong and organic linkages with the domestic raw material/primary production base;
  • increased exports of agricultural and food products and services incorporating greater added value, promoted and stimulated by appropriate trade and tariff policies. 

1.35 The long term national interest, therefore, imposes on the national community the need to invest in public goods for the benefit of the farming, food production, manufacturing and marketing sectors as well as to sustain a certain level of subsidisation and tariff protection for employment and incomes in the sector in the context of a pro-active policy in support of domestic food production, manufacturing and marketing at all stages and levels of the value chain. 

REGIONAL CONTEXT 

1.36 Food security plays a major role in determining the nutritional status of the population: it covers food availability, food access, food consumption/utilization and stability of food supply. Therefore, the overall objectives of a food security policy are to ensure that all people have continued access to sufficient supplies of safe foods for a nutritionally adequate diet and in so doing achieve and maintain health and nutritional wellbeing. In the CARICOM region, a recent study found that food security is compromised not so much by lack of food availability as by inadequate access to foods and dietary patterns that adversely impact on nutritional status.  

1.37 The CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (RFNSP) recognises that vulnerability to external shocks, poverty, social exclusion and a lack of participation in political decision-making processes are the main structural and acute causes of food insecurity in the region. The Policy calls for strategies that tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and empower marginalised groups to participate actively and meaningfully in the policy formulation, implementation and monitoring process.

1.38 The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), established by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, provides the wider context in which the RFNSP is being pursued and development efforts in the CARICOM region in general are to be conceived. The RFNSP defines Pillar 1 in the CARICOM Community Agriculture Policy, which is the overarching policy framework for agricultural, food production and rural development in the region.  

1.39 The CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) is set within the framework of the RFNSP, approved by the COTED (Agriculture) in October 2010, is in line with developments at the global and national levels and is designed to reap benefits of coordination, harmonization and concerted action. The RFNSAP contributes to four of the eight Millennium Development Goals: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child and maternal mortality; and ensuring environmental sustainability. 

1.40 It is in this context that this National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (FNSP) has been prepared, taking into account relevant regional policies and initiatives to ensure that the national food production, processing, distribution, marketing, trade, and food safety and agricultural public health system is capable of providing safe, adequate, nutritious and affordable food for the national community at all times as well as the relevant enabling and supportive environment to ensure appropriate utilization and lifestyle choices thereby achieving food and nutrition security. 


2. THE FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY POLICY 

Vision and Strategic Objectives of the Jamaica Food and Nutrition Security Policy (JFNSP) 

2.1 The basic philosophy underpinning food and nutrition security and the development of food production and allied services in Jamaica is herein defined as the achievement of the optimum degree of self-reliance through a strategy of feeding, clothing and housing the population, utilising to the greatest extent possible and feasible, indigenous raw materials and human and natural resources. In this context, the vision of the JFNSP, validated by the national consultations, is that all Jamaicans and residents of Jamaica at all times have universal physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary and food preferences for an active and healthy life. This statement is also the internationally agreed definition of food security1. To this end, the long-term goal of the Policy is to achieve sustainable food and nutrition security, to ensure the full protection and realization of the right to food for all Jamaicans and residents of Jamaica and to eliminate all forms of malnutrition in order to have a well-nourished and healthy population that can fulfil its aspirations to good health and economic well-being and effectively contribute to national economic development.

2.2 More specifically, the Policy will seek to: 

  • Ensure that a sufficient quantity of nutritious food of appropriate quality is available to all people in Jamaica, through increased domestic production and a sustainable level of imports (Food Availability).
  • Ensure that all individuals in Jamaica have access to adequate resources to acquire appropriate foods for a nutritious diet (Food Access).  
  • Ensure that all individuals in Jamaica reach a state of nutritional well-being through food choices and consumption that reflect Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) (Food Utilization).
  • Ensure that all people in Jamaica have access to adequate, safe and nutritious food at all times, are not at risk of losing access to it due to shocks, and consume/utilize foods that reflect physiological needs (Stability of Food Supply). 

2.3 This will entail the formulation and implementation of the activities and programmes set out below in order to:

  • Increase household food production and trading;
  • Improve income generation and job creation opportunities;
  • Improve nutrition and food safety;
  • Increase safety nets and food emergency management systems;
  • Improve analysis and information management system;
  • Provide capacity building; and
  • Facilitate stakeholder dialogue. Guiding principles for the National Policy for Food and Nutrition Security

Right to Food 

Jamaica has ratified the following international conventions: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 3/10/1975; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 3/10/1975; American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) 7/8/1978; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 19/10/1984; Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 14/5/1991. These international legal instruments all relate to the right to adequate food and their provisions should be reflected in domestic policies and legislation. Moreover they are in line with Article 14 of the Constitution of Jamaica, which guarantees the “right to life”. Recognizing that food security is a fundamental right of all citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status, and that poverty and social exclusion are among the main causes of food insecurity, this policy aspires to identify and focus on the welfare of the most vulnerable and to address pro-actively the underlying structural causes of hunger, while ensuring food availability and access for all citizens and residents of Jamaica. This means supporting strategies that tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, and empowerment of marginalized groups so that all Jamaicans can participate fully in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of national programmes, as well as in community-based actions. It also means establishing and strengthening redress mechanisms and informing all Jamaicans on the procedures to follow to seek redress and claim their rights. These principles will be translated into actions to be taken as part of the action plan to implement this Policy. 

Protection of Forest and Fishery Resources 

Recognizing therefore that the forests, watersheds, wetlands and marine resources constitute a substantive resource for food and nutrition security to be safeguarded through the establishment of protected areas (for example national parks, forest reserves, marine parks etc.) and implementation of climate change adaptation measures. 

Agriculture and Food Production 

Recognizing the vital role of the food and agriculture (including forestry and fisheries) sector in the quest for national food and nutrition security and the need to strengthen its ability to attract youth and entrepreneurship as well as adequate investment in agricultural/forestry/fish production, post-harvest handling, storage, distribution and exchange as an integral part of the private sector of Jamaica and the Caribbean region and a major source of employment and incomes for a large segment of the population.

Policy Coherence 

Coherent with the underlying tenets of the Jagdeo Initiative, the Liliendaal Declaration, Caribbean Cooperation on Health etc. and relevant national and regional policies, and focused on translating into action these political statements and policies related to and supportive of good health and nutrition, rural and food crop development and agro-food production, processing, marketing and distribution;

  • Consistent with Vision 2030 and complementary and catalytic towards national policy on climate change and other relevant national/regional sector policies;  
  • Having inter-temporal coherence: short-term emergency measures are consistent with and non-distorting relative to medium and long-term sector policies.
  • All national and sector policies must henceforth be coherent and consistent with the focus and priorities established in this Policy. 

Approach of the JFNSP 

2.4 Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) is a cross-cutting issue, and the many linkages between the various national and regional development policies, strategies and programmes and FNS require that all relevant issues (trade, transport, education, health and nutrition, land and water resource allocation, distribution, conservation and use, agro-industrial and national security policy) be incorporated into the formulation and implementation of the latter. Indeed, the resolution of these issues calls for a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach and measures that are a composite of policy, legislative, and institutional realignment actions, enhanced professional and technical capacity, improved processes, infrastructure and client-service orientation, and public-private sector partnership arrangements. 

2.5 Historically, the different dimensions of food and nutrition security have been addressed separately, resulting in a mix of policies that have not had the desired results. The policy approach entrenches public/private civil society partnerships and focuses on household food security without overlooking national food security concerns. 

2.6 Firstly, food security interventions will ensure that the target food insecure population gains access to productive resources. Secondly, where a segment of the target food insecure population is unable to gain access to productive resources, then food security interventions will ensure that segment gains access to income and job opportunities to enhance its power to purchase food. Thirdly, food security interventions will ensure that the target food insecure population is empowered to have nutritious and safe food. Fourthly, where another segment of the target food insecure population is still unable to access sufficient food because of disability, extreme conditions of destitution – food security interventions will ensure that the state provides relief measures that may be short- to mediumterm and on a sustained basis, depending on the nature of given interventions. Fifthly, food security interventions will proceed from an analysis that is grounded on accurate information and the impact of which - in eradicating hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity – is constantly monitored and evaluated. 

THE POLICY 

I. FOOD AVAILABILITY Objective - Promote the sustainable production of safe, affordable, nutritious, good quality Jamaican food commodities/products. 

1. Government shall enact a Food Security Law to ensure domestic production of a minimum threshold of a selected basket of foods for which there is production capability and national comparative advantage, to meet domestic food, nutrition and health goals with timeliness and adequate quantities.   National comparative advantage means comparative advantage within different producing areas in Jamaica and not between Jamaica and other regional or extra-regional trading partners. Also, “threshold means that for a given food item in the selected basket of foods, a proportion must come from domestic production while the difference can come from imports. The threshold level for each major food item will depend on domestic production capability, whereby the greater the domestic capability, the higher will be the threshold and vice versa. The threshold will not be fixed in perpetuity, but will be subject to change from time to time depending on development in technology which could improve domestic production capability. Likewise, the composition of the basket will not be fixed but will change from time to time depending on domestic production capability, consumer tastes and preferences, and guided by the epidemiological profile of the population.  

This law will be supported by appropriate production and trade policies to increase production and productivity of the domestic agriculture and agro-processing sectors and protect local industries from unfair external competition. Under this legislation, the Minister responsible for the agricultural sector shall be empowered to determine and adjust the specific output levels and types of crops and livestock products from time to time, guided by an assessment of nutritional needs, domestic/local supply and existing trade obligations, in line with changes in the national food production and agro processing capability and national/regional trade policy. Imports of these products or close substitutes shall be subject to approval by the Agriculture Ministry. To the extent feasible, at least 75% of all food purchases made by Government directly or by public entities shall be from domestic/regional food production. 

2. Government shall promote increased availability of nationally produced nutritious food at competitive market prices through the utilization of an approach to production planning in which: 

i) Priority commodities will be selected on the basis of the promotion of a nutritionally balanced diet comprised of local food products.

ii) Criteria for selection of the commodities/products will be guided by the national and regional Dietary Guidelines and the national epidemiological profile and based on: market demand, competitiveness, nutrient content, domestic natural resource endowment and their strategic importance.  

iii) Small producers (farmers, fisher folk, cottage food processors etc., with a focus on women and youth) shall be critical in the production of the identified food commodities/products.

iv) Government will encourage continuous communication between the stakeholders to ensure that the varieties of products being demanded by the processors are consistently and adequately produced by the farmers. 

3. While Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and Living Modified Organisms (LMO) may, in many cases be made to be pest resistant, flower and mature faster and provide superior crop yields etc. research elsewhere appears to have shown that they are not totally safe and the nutrition content of such foods is significantly lower than that of non-modified foods. It is therefore imperative to include such work in the National Food and Nutrition Research Agenda and to develop and implement, in consultation with relevant research institutions and national and regional tertiary institutions, a research programme on these organisms to provide evidence-based support for a national policy in respect of GMO‟s and LMO‟s. 

4. Government shall encourage and facilitate the production and productivity of the identified food and livestock commodities/products by creating and fostering an enabling environment for: 

i) Generation and transfer of appropriate technology through market driven research programmes at existing institutions (strengthened where appropriate) and cooperation with international development partners. In addition, Government shall facilitate the adoption of new and existing technologies in food crop cultivation and livestock management through the building of technical capabilities and capacities of producers through training and technology transfer in best practices.

ii) Documentation and dissemination of best practices for identified food crops/livestock and other food commodities, including sustainable production practices.  

iii) Development of mechanisms for bulk purchasing and distribution of agricultural inputs with safeguards to ensure compliance with Chapter 8 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas – Competition Policy and Consumer Protection, so that companies involved in the importation of inputs do not engage in anti-competitive practices and the abuse of dominant position.

iv) Ensuring the production, conservation, importation, evaluation and distribution of high quality planting and genetic material through the development of a seed and genetic material plan, seed bank and implementation mechanism.  

v) Promotion of on-farm mechanization through greater use and improved access to modern and appropriate equipment/tools.

vi) Promotion and dissemination of Good Agricultural Practices to producers to include, inter alia:

(a) Promotion of appropriate fertilizer use through soil testing and collaboration with fertilizer manufacturers to provide the proper grades for farmers.

(b) Promotion of soil conservation and soil fertility to facilitate land productivity on a sustainable basis.

(c) Encouragement of more efficient and sustainable use of agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals in production systems.

(d) Promote the use of Integrated Pest Management in production systems.

(e) Promoting traceability in production systems.

(f) Efficient use of water in production systems.

(g) Encourage environmentally sound waste disposal and recycling systems.

(h) Support and encourage sustainable fisheries practices. 

5. In line with the National Food Security legislation, Government shall strongly promote the production of foods identified as critical to meeting the food, nutrition and health goals and for which there is a national production capability. Government shall therefore improve the incentive framework, provide trade policy support and implement a Policy Framework and Programme for selected commodities, which would: 

(a) Identify strategic commodities that can be produced competitively and in required quantities.  

(b) Facilitate the use of the national aquatic resources and promote aquaculture.

(c) Encourage the inclusion of locally produced raw material in feed production.  

(d) Utilize a value chain approach to diagnose and address constraints in the development of the identified industries.  

(e) Develop industry plans with all actors along the value chain.

(f) Facilitate stakeholder dialogue with all actors along the value chain to ensure consensus building on strategic actions.  

(g) Formulate a comprehensive set of industry support measures to address identified challenges.

(h) Collaborate with producers in developing appropriate governance models for each targeted industry.  

(i) Ensure an enabling environment for agro-industry development. 

II. FOOD STABILITY Objective – To improve the food and nutrition security resilience of the national community to natural and socio-economic shocks and climate change. 

1. Government recognizes that there are recurring threats to food security, and that their intensity is exacerbated by climate change, the effects of which can be mitigated, and for which adaptation is essential to build resilience to this evolving threat. In this regard, the policy will emphasize the implementation of adaptation and resiliencebuilding strategies as a means of enhancing the stability of food security. To this end, therefore, Government shall:

a. Integrate climate management considerations into the National Agricultural Disaster Risk Management Programme as well as into programmes to develop farm management and build industry and farming community capacities to increase resilience through: (i) developing dynamic farm/agricultural management tools that integrate climate change risks into existing and emerging farm management systems; (ii) developing, where possible, environmental management systems for the agricultural sector; (iii) identifying and building on successful indigenous knowledge and strategies for adaptation.

b. Pursue climate resilient development which focuses on adaptation as well as mitigation strategies for the food and agriculture sector. In respect of mitigation, priority focus shall be placed on coastal management (which affects the fishing industry) as well as sustainable forest management for reducing emissions while improving livelihoods and ensuring their stability over time. This will also support a reduction in deforestation, improved watershed management and protection of carbon reservoirs.

c. Encourage capacity enhancement within relevant ministries and public entities, research institutions and the hydro-meteorological departments and foster links with UWI and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) so that they can provide accurate and timely climate information to the farming community. In this area, within the framework of the ISFNS, Government of Jamaica and CARICOM will seek technical and financial assistance for institution building and capacity development at regional and national levels from bilateral and multilateral partners and the International Finance Institutions. 

2. In order to reduce the impact of climate change on food production, incomes and livelihoods, Government shall enhance the stability of food supply by:

a. Adopting an integrated climate change management approach

b. Developing and adopting sustainable land and water management practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change 

c. Developing sustainable land, water, forest and fishery management systems inter alia to address shortages and excessive rainfall and protect the natural resource base in the face of climate change.

d. Integrate climate adaptation into agricultural adjustment programmes through a risk management approach.

e. Retraining and retooling of farmers in appropriate production practices (e.g. conservation farming, zero tillage etc.) to adapt to the changing environment Zoning of agricultural production as necessary to reduce vulnerability.  

f. Development of a national cropping plan, taking into consideration prevailing weather hazards, in order to reduce overall production risks.  

g. Integration of the pest, weed and disease implications of climate change and weather risks into strategies that minimize their impact on the agricultural and natural resource systems.

h. Support and fund increased water use efficiency across irrigated agriculture.  

i. Investment in new or existing water management and control infrastructure.

j. Promote cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuels that improve energy efficiency in agriculture. 

3. Enhancing Resilience through Risk Reduction strategies – Monitoring, Adaptation and Mitigation 

4. Implement a Weather Risk Management Strategy.

5. Improve the systems for the collection of agro-meteorological data (for key climate variables such as rainfall, river flow/levels, temperature, sea level rise and the incidence of extreme weather events (e.g.. hurricane, flood, drought) at the national and parish levels.

6. Improve existing disaster preparedness and mitigation systems/plans especially in food producing areas.

7. Develop a preparedness strategy and an early warning system (short-medium-long term) dealing with climate change parameters.  

8. Develop a communication plan to disseminate accurate and timely climate and weather information to the farming/fishing community. 

III. FOOD ACCESS Objective – To ensure access of households and individuals to sufficient, safe, nutritious and affordable food at all times. 

2.8 Access to food is a basic survival need for all citizens.  The Food and Nutrition Security Policy views this aspect as a critical pillar for establishing food security.  While being an important imperative at all times, access to food becomes of major significance in times of crisis or disaster, when opportunities for purchase, retrieval or other sourcing of food become threatened.  A major plank of food access is also the recognition of persistent vulnerabilities and circumstances, for example poverty and indigence, that impact on the abilities of persons with little or no income to sustainably access appropriate food for themselves and their families.  The Food and Nutrition Security Policy will therefore recognize these nuances of food access, and endeavour to create the environment that supports responsive food systems, as well as adequate social protection for vulnerable population groups. 

2.9 Government shall therefore ensure that the population has economic and physical access to food at all times by: 

1. Improving access to Livelihood Assets through: 

i. Identification and mapping of vulnerable groups1 (taking a gender-sensitive approach) that are prone to chronic or transitory food insecurity and establishment of a national database of this information, recognizing that each group may require a different intervention, to ensure their access to livelihoods based on self-sufficiency and sustainable income earning activities. This will be effected through collaboration among its agencies, and with external partners and extensive and continued consultation with vulnerable groups, to provide timely socio-economic and nutrition information on vulnerable population groups; this will further enable the design of more effective and targeted interventions.  

ii. Government shall also promote inter-ministerial collaboration to design specific programmes to improve the livelihoods and food security of these groups.

iii. Improving rural livelihoods, especially those of small producers, agricultural labourers and marginalized urban dwellers, through the promotion of entrepreneurship, home food production (small ruminant rearing and backyard/container/protected environment gardening) and programmes to pay for environmental services. Micro-credit and carbon credit schemes to encourage diversification of economic activity in rural and peri-urban areas will be promoted. In addition, action will be taken to strengthen the linkages between agriculture and food crop post-harvest handling, food processing and preparation as well as with other alternative livelihood activities, employment opportunities and incentives for farmers, to broaden the household income base.  

iv. Widening and deepening vocational training programmes for artisans, farmers, fishermen and vulnerable groups (especially women) to improve their skills and employability.

v. Revision of poverty reduction programmes to encompass productive safety net mechanisms/interventions and complementary measures to preclude a dependency syndrome and promote sustainable livelihoods and food and nutrition security safety nets

2. In keeping with the Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan, Government shall improve mechanisms for measuring and monitoring poverty through:

i. Improved measurement and identification methodologies to improve the design and targeting of programmes and interventions for the poor;

ii. Enhanced data collection methodologies;

iii. Evidence-based research as a basis for poverty measurement and monitoring;

iv. Strengthening of technical capacity of relevant agencies to monitor vulnerability factors with a focus on FNS.

3. In keeping with the Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan, Government shall ensure that economic opportunities for sustainable livelihoods are created and/or expanded by:

i. Promoting increased access of vulnerable groups to affordable and innovative means of credit through new and existing microfinance credit schemes and relevant business support services to finance new and existing business ventures. In particular, Government shall create and strengthen economic opportunities for persons with disabilities.

ii. Development of appropriate mechanisms and programmes for transition and absorption of displaced workers, especially in rural areas.  

iii. Promotion of human capital development among poor and vulnerable groups through the widening of the scope and reach of vocational training programmes, adult learning certification programmes, and continuous learning programmes. Government shall also seek to expand apprenticeship and other welfare-to-work programmes in collaboration with the private sector to equip these groups with the necessary skills in preparation for entry in the workforce. Through the appropriate agencies, the extension service will continue to provide training and marketing assistance to the farming community and empower urban households to produce their own food through backyard gardening. In addition, the extension service, through its social services programme will continue to train and empower rural women to undertake income generating activities in order to enhance their quality of life and that of their families.

iv. Strengthening of community support systems through capacity building of NGOs, CBOs and producer organizations to provide greater support to their members and communities for livelihood creation and enhancement. 

4. Improving and ensuring equitable access to basic public goods and services (such as water, electricity, sanitation, education, roads, healthcare, and other amenities) and community infrastructure and through existing programmes and institutions to improve human welfare and facilitate investment.  

5. Interventions to enable poor individuals and households to formalize asset ownership; identify, build on, or acquire economic assets.

6. Continued review and enforcement of the minimum wage and promotion of policies that support decent work for the population.

7. Government shall continue to ensure access of the population to minimum  basic food items providing recommended dietary allowance, through:

i. Appropriate fiscal measures

ii. Use of moral suasion in collaboration with private sector business interests;

iii. Statutory regulations and appropriate market interventions as necessary;

iv. Periodically reviewing the minimum wage food basket and tracking and monitoring food prices;

v. Promotion and strengthening of school gardens and youth in agriculture programmes with technical support and backstopping from existing agricultural institutions at secondary and tertiary level;

vi. Strengthening national laboratory capacity to monitor/verify labelling requirements and nutrients of concern; vii. Ensuring access to healthy alternatives low in sodium, sugar and fat (in particular trans and saturated) content;

viii. Facilitating comprehensive and accurate market information dissemination to the population.

8. Government shall create a public policy framework that is responsive to the needs of the population with particular emphasis on the needs of the vulnerable poor through:

i. Mainstreaming of poverty reduction measures, including gender, into all public policies.

ii. Promoting macroeconomic policies that protect the real incomes of the poor and vulnerable.

iii. Developing a structured national policy and plan of action for poverty reduction and revision of the national poverty eradication programmes, ensuring that participatory approaches to policy and decision-making for poverty reduction are followed.

9. Government shall seek to improve the existing social welfare system which provides coverage for vulnerable groups by:

i. Strengthening the systems for identification and selection of beneficiaries of public assistance programmes which provide cash transfers to purchase food. Promoting collaboration among its agencies, working closely with private sector, NGOs, and CBOs, to assist in identifying vulnerable and food insecure persons for social welfare interventions.

ii. Including consideration of food security status in the identification of social assistance beneficiaries.

iii. Increasing general awareness of the existence and provisions of social assistance programmes.

10. Government shall ensure that persons who become vulnerable and food insecure during emergencies caused by natural hazards/economic shocks and food shortages, have adequate access to safe, nutritious and culturally acceptable food through:

i. Provisions in the National Food Emergency Plan outlining the national strategy (zonal response) for collaboration with the private sector, NGOs, CBOs, churches, donor agencies and disaster relief agencies for temporary assistance to meet the basic food needs of vulnerable and food insecure persons.  

ii. Integration of food security provisions into emergency assistance strategies for extremely vulnerable groups under existing social welfare programmes and social safety nets.  

iii. Making provisions/accommodations for the special dietary needs of certain groups, for example, the chronically ill, infants, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

iv. Use of fiscal measures and trade policy to ensure the accessibility of a low cost basket of nutritious food to the vulnerable population.

IV. FOOD UTILIZATION/CONSUMPTION/NUTRITIONAL ADEQUACY Objective – To promote nutritionally adequate, safe, affordable dietary intakes and other positive lifestyle behaviours throughout the life course

1. In recognition of the challenges facing the Jamaican population with respect to increasing levels of obesity, non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs), persistent iron deficiency anaemia and pockets of under nutrition, Government shall:  

a. Promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding practices:

i. Finalize, implement, monitor and evaluate a comprehensive national policy and national plan of action on infant and young child feeding.

ii. Identify and allocate adequate resources – human, financial and organizational – to ensure the plan‟s timely and successful execution. 

b. Promote consumption practices consistent with national population dietary goals in line with international standards through:  

i. Establishing and implementing food-based dietary guidelines and healthier composition of food by:

  • reducing sodium/salt levels
  •  reducing industrially produced trans-fatty acids  
  • decreasing saturated fats
  • limiting free sugars

ii. Establishing the technical capability within the relevant ministries for operating an updated system for monitoring the cost of a nutritionally balanced food basket;

iii. Implementing a National Social Marketing Campaign to promote local foods based on their nutritional value;

iv. Implementation of programmes for incentives and dis-incentives where appropriate for nutritious and less-nutritious foods;

v. Advocating changes in the CARICOM Common External Tariff with a view to lowering tariffs on foods that will reduce the risk of chronic diseases and/or more importantly, provision of incentives for production of low sodium, low sugar and low fat- containing foods.

vi. Providing accurate and balanced information for consumers to enable them to make well-informed, healthy choices by implementing social marketing programmes (schools, workplace, communities)  

c. Strengthen national nutrition surveillance systems in accordance with WHO standards, so as to monitor the nutritional status of the population and identify those at risk of nutrition-related disorders:

i. Implement a strategy of universal assessment for all children (0 to 18 years old) to identify those at risk of malnutrition (deficiency diseases, overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases). 

d. Promote a supportive environment that will increase physical activity in line with national and WHO recommendations

i. Develop and implement national guidelines on physical activity for health.

ii. Implement school-based programmes in line with WHOs health-promoting schools initiative.

iii. Ensure that physical environments support safe, active commuting. 

e. Provide Nutrition Standards and guidelines to strengthen programme development and implementation in all sectors by:

i. Incorporation of nutrition principles into competency development and core curricula in schools and in professional and industry training.  

ii. Increasing the proficiency of persons giving nutrition information to the public. 

f. Implement policies and programmes to detect, prevent and manage micronutrient deficiency:

i. Promote healthy practices among women of child bearing age and in the prenatal period placing emphasis on micronutrient rich foods such as those containing iron, folate, zinc and other micronutrients of interest.

ii. Monitor and strengthen the distribution system for iron/folate supplements in antenatal clinics.

iii. Implement and/or strengthen existing food and nutrition supplementary programmes for vulnerable groups such as women of childbearing age, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, children and adolescent girls. 

2. Institutions and schools provide an entry point for interventions to prevent and control some of the identified nutrition conditions and influence food tastes and preferences. In this regard, the policy shall seek to address the following areas:

a. Early Childhood Institutions, Primary and Secondary schools through

i. Preparation and implementation of a national comprehensive school nutrition policy.

ii. Support for the development of curricula at different levels of the education system - teacher training, early childhood institutions, primary and secondary schools - that include nutrition and health education for making lifestyle choices.  

iii. Development of national guidelines for the preparation and sale to children of school meals that promote health and wellness.  

iv. Adopting a policy that the local content of the meals provided under national school feeding programmes should be increased in keeping with the import replacement strategy.

b. Health Care Facilities through:

i. Development and implementation of National Standards of Care for nutritional management of chronic conditions.

ii. Provision of adequate resources to strengthen primary care renewal and hospital dietetics departments (human, financial, physical) to facilitate the highest quality of care, reduce length of stay and decrease health care costs. 

c. Residential Facilities through

i. Development of nutritional standards of care for the elderly, mentally challenged and persons living in institutions e.g. child care institutions and prisons.

ii. Adopting a policy that the meals provided in such facilities should include local food content in keeping with the import replacement strategy.  

3. Strengthen existing legislation and regulations and enact new laws, where necessary, to foster the implementation/enforcement of food safety standards in keeping with international standards.

a. Coordinate national guidelines for maintaining food safety and traceability programmes along the food chain. 

4. Promote, through the mass media, good nutrition practices, wise purchasing, storage and utilization of food products:

i. Implement a promotional campaign that emphasizes the health and nutritional benefits of selected national/regional foods.  

ii. Creative approaches will be used to promote the consumption of nutritious national/regional foods, for example, using Outstanding National and Caribbean Personalities.

5. Increase awareness among policy makers and planners of the extent and severity of nutritional problems and of their causes, of the economic benefit of interventions and of how activities under their control can affect the nutritional status of different socio-economic groups. 


3. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK 

General Considerations

3.1 To improve food security and general nutrition levels, effective leadership, development, and good governance are central elements of policy execution. Leadership must be exercised and building political awareness of the deleterious effects of malnutrition on welfare and on development prospects at the local level is crucial. The message that poverty is an intrinsic component of food and nutrition insecurity must be disseminated widely.

Empowerment

3.3 Reflecting a human-rights approach to food and nutrition security, empowerment of duty-bearers and rights-holders is an essential component of the policy and implementation strategy. It is important that the comparative strengths and weaknesses of various actors be recognised. Each group of actors needs strengthening to differing degrees and in different ways. Duty-bearers must be assisted to recognise their responsibilities and have sufficient capacity to fulfil them, while rights-holders must be assisted to recognise their rights and engage in the policy process to argue for their fulfilment. Capacity and knowledge must be built among local government leaders and officers so that they are able to carry out their duties effectively in order to ensure that the right-to-food of all citizens is respected adequately.

Decentralisation

3.4 Ultimately, food and nutrition security needs to be attained by households and individuals where they live. The devolution of action under this policy to local governments is therefore essential.

Gender Mainstreaming

3.5 It is crucial to mainstream gender within the implementation strategy to achieve lasting success. Improving nutrition inherently requires a strong gender perspective due to the predominance of female-headed households and the positive influence of females in communities. In the end, all children born in the country will be raised so that they are enabled to attain their full potential over their lifespan. It is the care that they receive from conception through the first two years of life that is biologically the most critical for them in this regard.

Human Resource Capacity Building

3.6 Improved nutrition requires access to knowledge on how to prepare nutritious meals, maintain healthy lifestyles and how to provide proper feeding, care and medical attention to children and other dependents. At all levels of policy implementation individuals must be empowered to know how to make use of available resources to achieve good nutritional status and a healthy, active life. The nutrition education messages that need to be learned include: components of a balanced diet and information on how locally available foods can be used to create balanced diets, the value of exclusive breastfeeding, the importance of prenatal care and regular child growth monitoring, the control of infant and childhood illnesses, maintaining clean water, sanitation and a healthy environment.  

Current Institutional Framework

3.7 There are various Government institutions with responsibility for food and nutrition security in Jamaica. The institutional framework for food and nutrition security cuts across seven core Ministries,  supporting ministries and other key public entities. The following Matrix shows the responsibility of each Ministry in respect of the four elements of food and nutrition security. 

3.8 A strong research agenda has been included in the development of the policy, and it cuts across all four pillars with the aim of providing the necessary information to guide decisions. The coordination of this research agenda will be paramount, given the plethora of institutions involved in food and nutrition security. As such, Academia will be a critical stakeholder in the implementation process, specifically to provide the expertise and guidance in the conduct of all relevant research to guide evidence-based decision making.

3.9 It should be noted that there is at present no entity or body responsible for coordinating food and nutrition security policies and programmes as these issues are normally considered to be the responsibility of the agriculture ministry due to the lack of awareness of the multi-sector and inter-disciplinary nature of the issue.

Nature and Scope of FNS actions and activities

3.10 The JFNSP does not deal directly with those issues of food availability that fall within the exclusive purview of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (land and water availability, conservation and management, agricultural production and yield increasing measures etc.). This policy focuses on the wider issues of food and nutrition security that have not until now been properly addressed since they are at the interface between agriculture, health and nutrition, education, trade etc., and have been addressed separately because the institutional framework and mechanisms for dealing with such multi-sector issues did not exist. 


4. MONITORING AND EVALUATION 

Information for Decision Making 

4.1 Both horizontal and vertical information flows need to be considered and this requires close coordination among national sector agencies, relevant public and private sector entities and international organisations. Food and nutrition security issues and actions are multi-sector and multi-disciplinary in nature. Thus information from different sources (such as ministerial information management systems, research studies, national surveys and those conducted by non-governmental organizations) needs to be brought together to support comprehensive measurement of policy outcomes and impacts over time. This issue will receive special attention through the implementation of an information-sharing and exchange mechanism for the collation of information from different sources. 

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

4.3 As noted above, the country‟s vulnerability to natural disasters, exacerbated by the effects of climate change, and its dependence on external markets for the greater part of its food supplies, has underlined the importance of having access to timely, reliable and accurate information on domestic food output, availability and prices, the nature, extent and geographic distribution of vulnerability and food insecurity as well as the state of the crops in the fields, so as to have early warning of the probability of crop failures etc. 


Appendix I Situation Analysis 

 

Food Availability 

Domestic Production Agriculture‟s contribution to GDP has declined by 13.4% over the past 20 years, from 6.7% in 1991 to 5.8% in 2010, albeit peaking at 8.4% in 1996 and reaching its lowest point at 4.8% in 2008. The trend in the contribution of the sector reflects the overall decline of production and decreasing public and private sector investment therein. All subsectors, with the exception of livestock experienced a decline in production over the 1996 to 2010 period. The export, domestic crop and fisheries subsectors declined by 68%, 25.2% and 6.7%, respectively. Post-harvest activities also declined by 43%. On the other hand, livestock production increased by 41%.

Since 1996, the decline in production has been mainly due to adverse weather conditions, high interest rates on farm loans and the consequent contraction of investment in the sector, as well as the overall decline in the economy. The impact of adverse weather conditions during particular calendar years continued to have negative impacts on successive periods of production as farmers tend to plant less in the ensuing years because of reduced funds available for replanting. In addition to prolonged droughts in 1997-1998 and 1999-2000, the sector had to confront disease problems for papaya, banana and citrus.  

Livestock production has been affected by the decline in spending power of the population. This has especially impacted poultry, which is the main source of protein for most people. Thus, in the livestock sector between 2006 and 2010, while beef and veal production declined and poultry meat remained stable, production of sheep, goat and pork meat increased and the decline in dairy production was reversed. At the same time, domestic crop production recorded increases in several categories, viz. condiments, cereals, plantains, potatoes, yams, other tubers and sorrel. The performance of vegetables and fruits, which tend to be affected by hazards, fluctuated over the same period.

Fish resources in Jamaica consist mainly of marine capture fisheries and aquaculture, with inland fisheries, not being economically significant. With the exception of industrial conch and lobster fisheries and the artisanal fisheries on Pedro Bank, all fisheries are operated on an open-access basis. Access to fisheries resources in international waters is limited only by the technical capabilities of the local fishing industry so that intensity of fishing effort is a major determinant of production. Available fish stocks within the inshore fisheries are, however, considered inadequate to support a viable fishing industry due to significant reduction in commercial fish stocks as a result of overfishing and the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems over time.

Post-Harvest Losses To cope with increasing food demand, emphasis has traditionally been placed on increasing food production. However, significant amounts of food are lost after harvest, thereby aggravating hunger and resulting in inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, irrigation water and human labour being wasted.

Land Use In line with the downward trend in domestic agricultural output, there has been a secular decline in agricultural land use: farm acreage fell by 46% from 602,665 acres in 1968 to 325,810 acres in 2007. The proportion of farmland in active use remained stable, at just over 60% throughout the period, albeit with some changes in land use: land in crops and pasture fell by 13% and 49.6%, respectively, when compared with 1996 data. This trend is attributed to several factors, inter alia deforestation leading to land degradation (erosion) and the decline in riverine, coastal and marine ecosystems that support fisheries, population growth, leading to increased demand for lands for residential use, industrial and commercial expansion; the secular decline in agricultural investment; and the diminished attractiveness of agriculture as a business venture (and its low social esteem) particularly for young people, resulting from the emergence of better alternative opportunities. 

Water Use and Irrigation Most small scale agricultural activity is rain-fed, as very little irrigation is used outside of the large commercial farms. This circumstance renders Jamaican agriculture particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the form of the increased frequency and intensity of droughts, storms and floods that result in crop losses. The main types of irrigation are surface, sprinkler and drip irrigation systems. According to the National Irrigation Development Plan (NIDP), areas suitable for irrigation are classified into three land categories: i) lands which may be irrigated with all common techniques of irrigation; ii) lands suited only for sprinkler and micro-irrigation techniques; and iii) lands with generally steep slopes (>10percent), shallow top soils which are productive with careful management and manual irrigation.

Constraints It is clear from the experience of the past forty years that, despite the consistent efforts of Government to increase agricultural production, productivity, incomes and competitiveness, many fundamental constraints remain. These include:  

  • Small and uneconomic size of land holdings;
  •  Over-reliance on rainfall to meet water needs;
  •  Under-utilization and inefficient use of large areas of arable lands;
  • High incidence of praedial larceny;
  •  Low labour productivity;
  • High post-harvest losses of up to 40% of production; 

Agro Processing Jamaica‟s food manufacturers include: sugar, molasses, and rum manufacturers; cocoa and coffee primary processors; meat, poultry and fish processors; dairy products processors, including ice cream and yoghurt manufacturers; citrus processors; fruit and vegetable processors; manufacturers of wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages; flour mills; feed mills; rice mills; cereal and breakfast food manufacturers; processors of oils and fats; confectionery manufacturers; snack food manufacturers; and bakeries.

External Trade Given the uneven performance of the domestic food production sector and the inadequacies in its structure and the composition of its output, Jamaica‟s food requirements are currently met from both domestically produced crops and imported foods. Food imports have contributed significantly to Jamaica‟s food security, as the country does not have the capacity to produce all of its food needs. As shown above, this is a result of a combination of factors such as declining availability of land for agricultural use, inadequate organization of the agricultural sector, the historical pre-eminence of export agriculture (bananas, sugar, cocoa and coffee), and natural constraints on the production of some commodities. The country is an importer of raw and semi-processed products for the agroprocessing sector and finished goods for direct consumption. 

Food Access and Vulnerability to Food Insecurity

With Gross National Income per capita of US$4,990 in 2009, Jamaica is ranked by the World Bank as an upper middle income country; over 50% of the population lives in urban areas. The main economic sectors include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, services (tourism, distributive trades, telecommunications, transportation, restaurants, financial, real estate, health, etc.), which employed 1.275 million persons in 2010. Given that compensation of employees (wage income), gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices and national disposable income for the period 2005 to 2009, grew at a slower rate than the overall consumer price index (CPI) and the food and non-alcoholic beverages component of the index, it is clear that household food security has worsened. However, although between 2000 and 2009, Jamaica‟s GDP in constant prices increased by only 4.7%, this was still just above the population growth rate so that GDP per capita remained stable. 

Food Utilization and Food Safety Food utilization brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security and refers to the utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. Effective food utilization depends in large measure, on knowledge within the household of food storage and processing techniques, basic principles of nutrition and proper child care. 

Health and Nutrition Although Jamaica has made impressive progress in achieving some of the objectives of the 1978 Food and Nutrition Policy, the country still falls short of the goal of adequate food and nutrition for all. Moreover, Jamaica is now faced with the challenge of a double disease burden. The problem of malnutrition caused by nutritional deficits still exists while at the same time, there is a steady increase in the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Approximately 30% men and 60% women are obese and overweight. In addition 20% are hypertensive and 8% are diabetic. Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer account for 56% of deaths annually.  

Water for agriculture 

The supply of water is skewed both temporally and spatially. In most cases, it is the temporal variations rather than the amount of rain which brings most problems to rain fed systems. However, it is important to pay attention to rain fed crop and livestock systems as they currently supply most of the food produced in Jamaica and the Caribbean region. There is plenty of rainwater but more than 60% often goes back to the atmosphere unutilized for any productive purposes. The main requirements are management interventions which enable beneficial plants to use effectively, through transpiration, the rainwater available on-farm. 

Stability of Food Supplies

Climate Change Jamaica, being a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), is among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Major sectors, such as agriculture and tourism, will be devastated by the impacts of climate change, which may affect the country in the following areas:

i. Sea level rise. The majority of the population is located along the coast which is low lying and therefore extremely vulnerable to sea level rise. Rising seas may inundate coastal areas destroying human settlements and tourist facilities thereby adversely affecting the resources required to sustain economies;

ii. Coral bleaching resulting from increased temperatures will have deleterious effects on the tourism industry, the economic base of many of the islands; 

Natural Disasters Jamaica‟s location, geology and geography, make the island prone to several natural hazards such as landslides, hurricanes, floods, droughts and earthquakes. In recent times, Jamaica has experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of such natural events, primarily floods (related to inclement weather, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes), droughts and landslides. This has heightened concerns about the impact of climate change, especially given the fact that Jamaica‟s agriculture is primarily rainfed. A mere 2.8 per cent of Jamaica‟s farmlands are irrigated, leaving the remainder to depend exclusively on rainfall. A large proportion of agricultural activities are also concentrated along the coast, which has suffered most of the destruction of life and property from natural hazards over the years (hurricanes, storm surges, coastal flooding, river overflows). 

External shocks Rising food prices during 2007-2008 and the economic crisis of 2008-2009 have affected all countries, increasing unemployment, reducing income opportunities, tourist arrivals and remittances and decreasing purchasing power with very serious impacts on the poor. In addition to the external economic challenges derived from increasing prices of imports and loss of export demand due to the global recession, Jamaica is also particularly exposed to the ravages of natural disasters (hurricanes, floods and drought). This vulnerability is compounded by a number of structural constraints related simultaneously to size and distance that affect the economic performance of the national agricultural sectors. 


Appendix II- Regional Context 

Regional Dimension 
CARICOM countries are recognized as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low Lying Coastal States (LCS) by the United Nations. Their special characteristics make these countries particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. The factors and conditions impacting on vulnerability are economic, social and environmental. Economic vulnerability includes, inter alia, the openness of the economies, indicated by volatility of income and the high proportion of total trade (imports plus exports and their limited diversification) in GDP. Social vulnerability takes expression in several forms, including the brain drain, educational performance and health services that have not kept pace with the requirements of a changing region and issues related to crime, unemployment and HIV/AIDS. CARICOM countries are also prone to natural hazards that are frequent and which result in direct losses in terms of deaths and significant damages to property and income generating assets. 

The Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy

The policy is grounded in the commitments made by Member States in adhering to the Right to Food Convention as well as those made at the World Food Summit in 2009, especially Principle 3: Strive for a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security that consists of:

1) direct action to tackle hunger immediately for the most vulnerable and 2) medium and long-term sustainable agricultural, food security, nutrition and rural development programmes to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty, including through the progressive realization of the right to adequate food. It will also enable them to achieve Millennium Development Goal 1, namely, to reduce respectively the proportion and the absolute numbers of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition by half by 2015 and to measure progress towards its achievement.

THE WAY FORWARD

COTED agreed that the next step in the process would be the preparation of an Action Programme/Plan, giving priority inter alia to the following areas:

1. Promotion of increased availability of regionally produced nutritious food (looking at the whole supply chain from farmer to consumer) at remunerative market prices so as to increase production, productivity and returns to farmers;  

2. Identification and mapping of vulnerable groups (who are the food insecure, why are they food insecure and where are they located?) with special emphasis on women, children, the elderly and the physically and mentally handicapped, and establishment of a national and regional database of this information;

3. Removal of non-tariff barriers to trade (SPS-TBT barriers) that increase marketing costs and hinder access to and distribution of food within the Region, as well as the development of strategies to address regional transportation so as to reduce distribution costs and improve the movement of food commodities across the Region; 

4. Promotion of healthy Caribbean diets and optimal nutrition to reduce NonCommunicable Diseases (NCDs), obesity and malnutrition, especially at all stages of the education system; 

The Thirty-Eighth Special Meeting of the COTED (October 2011, Dominica) endorsed the proposed Regional Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan (RFNSAP) and focus is now being placed on its execution. The COTED has endorsed the following recommended steps for immediate action for the implementation of the RFNSAP:

Step 1 - Establish or strengthen a multi-sector government institution dealing with food and nutrition policy: A multi-sector national governance mechanism is needed in order to reach different sectors through advocacy and the development of partnerships.

Step 2 - Revise current food and nutrition security action plans and sector policies: The revised action plans should clearly identify the time scale for implementation of the different actions, the lead implementing agency and the allocation of resources.  Member States should establish specific targets for each of the food and nutrition security goals, as well as specific food safety goals, taking into account available resources and priorities.

Step 3 - Prioritise the implementation of specific actions: The choice of actions should be based on the stage of national policy and capacity development reached.

Step 4 -  Operationalize the Action Plan through a combination of macro-economic policies, regulatory frameworks (legislation, regulations, etc,) and fiscal and other measures:  Actions should, inter-alia, be designed at both national and local levels, with particular attention paid to community interventions and the awareness building potential of settings such as schools, hospitals, and workplaces.  

Step 5 - Establish dialogue and partnerships with all stakeholders: Private non-profit, especially civil society and profit organisations should be engaged in the implementation of action plans, with clear identification of their expected roles.

Step 6 - Allocate resources: Allocating the right mix of human, financial and temporal resources is crucial for successful implementation.  

Step 7 - Monitor implementation and accountability: The multi-sector governance mechanism on food and nutrition policy should periodically report to the government, as well as to international fora.  The RFNSP and the RFNSAP shall be reviewed periodically and their effects and impacts evaluated at the end of the first five-year period in 2016, or more frequently as deemed necessary. 

The RFNSP provides an opportunity to reassess and refocus national agricultural development policies, programmes and investments implemented at the national and regional (CCAP, CFP) levels, by introducing the aspects of food access, safety, stability of supply, and nutritional security, health and well-being, viewed from the perspective of the consumer rather than that of the producer, as is normally the rule.  

The formulation and implementation of the RFNSP, therefore, seeks to unify and reinforce the various efforts made so far at national and regional levels, providing the Community with an empirically-grounded, feasible and widely supported operational frame of reference for the achievement of food and nutrition security providing the equilibrium for consumers to access food at affordable prices while producers get a fair price for their products. 

 

 

 

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