High Reliance on Rising Food Prices leaves Pacific Vulnerable

November 2019

Improving Health, Reducing NCDs and Expanding Domestic Agriculture

In an effort to address improving health and expanding linkages with domestic agriculture CTA and PIFON examined the opportunities of School Feeding Programmes IMAGE: Pacific Island Books

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (World Food Summit, 2009).

Feleti Teo the Executive Director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission says there is an urgent need for regional cooperation on food security in the Pacific.

“It’s no longer a health issue but a development issue and one that is multi-sectoral in nature and must be viewed in its broadest scope.”

“More Pacific people today rely on imported foods such as rice, flour and noodles to meet basic dietary needs,” he said.

“For some of our Pacific nations such as my own Tuvalu, this is particularly true due to the scarcity of land and the poor soil quality of available land.”

Teo says the impact of rising food prices is a wake-up call to countries that rely heavily on food imports.

“The Pacific region with its small-scale trading economies and high reliance on imported food is considered to be particularly vulnerable to these effects.”

“This vulnerability has been highlighted by the dramatic increases in food prices seen within the region in the past few years,” he said.

In an effort to address improving health and expanding linkages with domestic agriculture, the Technical Centre for Agricultural & Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) examined the opportunities of School Feeding Programmes.

“While there have been steady reductions in the prevalence of undernutrition in most of Asia over the past two decades, there has been almost no change in the Pacific region since 1990,” says PIFON’s Lavinia Kaumaitotoya.

New to the Pacific, Kaumaitotoya said School Feeding Programmes offer potential health, educational, employment and earnings benefits that can promote behavioral change in the young.

“These programmes can help stop the rise in obesity rates and non-communicable diseases particularly among young people.”

“It can open up new markets to smallholder farmers and stimulate investments in productivity enhancing technology and value addition product development,” she said.

School Feeding Programmes can be found in PIFON member countries in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

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