PM Bainimarama: PICs can resolve food crisis in our corner of the world

PM Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: FIJI GOVT/FACEBOOK

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says it is a “terrible shame” that in the midst of an ocean teeming with life and islands with fertile soil and favourable climate, Pacific Island States are recording the highest rates of diabetes in the world.

He made the comment in his official address at the opening of the three-day virtual National Food System Summi this morning.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had spawned a vicious cycle of disrupted supply chains, devastated industries, reduced incomes, and higher retail prices, all of which had forced families to make trade-offs in both the quantity and quality of their food.

He said for some families, this had led to insufficient calories and an insufficient variety and quality.

“For others, it can lead to overdependence on convenient and affordable processed foods that contribute to the increase in non-communicable diseases, which have a disproportionate and devastating effect on Pacific Island Countries,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“With COVID-19 now putting food systems under strain as global food supply chains are disrupted, this is the time to grow our way towards a sustainable, healthy food system that can guarantee that our people have enough high-quality food to guarantee a healthy and fulfilling life.

“We cannot solve the global food crisis, but we can resolve it in our corner of the world.”

Mr Bainimarama said a resilient food system would be critical, and a resilient system would include what we produced, imported, and exported.

“We will be challenged to find hardy crops that can withstand spikes in temperature or periods of drought and inundation.

“A resilient agricultural system will be diverse so that we are not overly dependent on only a few crops.

“And as our agriculture sector grows, we will not be overly dependent on a few economic sectors either. Some growers may find that they can do a lot better growing other, more lucrative crops, and we will want to help any farmer who wants to make that change.”

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