A workshop to discuss CARICOM's regional policy for food and nutrition security was held yesterday in Belmopan. The purpose of the workshop was to create a holistic policy framework for the period 2011 to 2025. The workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and saw the participation of representatives from the private and public sector and civil society as well as farmers, producers and other members of the National Food and Nutrition Security Commission of Belize. Policy Analyst Jose Castellanos tells us more.

Jose Castellanos; Policy Analyst, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 

"We are trying to validate the regional policy on food and nutrition security. Now the two biggest challenges we are facing at the regional level and also at the national level; one in food access, in other words people not being able to access food. It's not that we do not have food available but because of unemployment, because of poverty we have an issue of access. The second challenge is the issue of nutrition. It's not that people are not eating but they are eating the wrong kind of food. There are a lot of problems in terms of cancer, obesity and other non-communicable diseases."

Castellanos says that an important component of the regional policy is taking advantage of regional agreements to meet food and nutrition needs across the Caribbean.

Jose Castellanos

"We have a regional policy at the regional level and we have a national policy at the national level. At the regional level what we are trying to do is encourage people to consume Caribbean food. For instance Jamaica does not produce a certain type of beans so right now we are in the process of shipping a lot of beans to Jamaica. The goes for the other Caribbean countries, they don't produce any black eye pees we will ship that to them. The idea is to treat the entire region like a country, therefore Belize and Guyana has surplus in terms of production so we try to ship to them what they cannot produce. What we are trying to do is validate what has been done at the regional level at the national level. In other words how we arrived at this regional policy was basically was a number of principles and concepts which we had in place. We have to ensure that the national policy is consistent with the regional policy. We had thirteen or fourteen different national policies on food and nutrition policies that will serve and input to the regional policy."

The workshop was held yesterday at the Belmopan Convention Hotel.

Channel 7