UWI lecturer says ‘We’re importing food to kill us’

Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul. File photo Stabroek News.

KINGSTON, Jamaica–With sixty to eighty per cent of the food consumed in the region not being grown locally, lecturer in biometrics Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul says Caribbean nations are importing foods that are killing citizens.

  Paul was one of five presenters in The University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Food and Agriculture webinar on COVID-19: A Wake-Up Call for Regional Food and Nutrition Security.

  Her presentation, COVID-19: Implications for Food Availability in the Caribbean, stressed the need for countries to increase their focus on agriculture, not only for sustainability but for healthier populations.

  “We are an import-dependent region, importing, according to the latest statistics, about US $6 billion in food. Between 60-80 per cent of the food that we consume is imported …

  “About 90 per cent of that food import comes from the United States of America. Only Haiti qualifies for food aid among the [Caribbean Community – Ed.] CARICOM countries. If we look at the composition of the foods we are importing, we are seeing that we are importing food preparation which is processed food: foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt. In other words, we are importing food to kill ourselves,” Fletcher-Paul said.

  Food availability is simply the amount of food present in a country. It is divided into domestic production, imports and food stock. Regarding domestic production, Fletcher-Paul said the regional agricultural sector continues to decline since trade liberalisation reduced the demand for bananas and sugar from the Caribbean…

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