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Address at the National Launching of the World Food Day 2019

October 16, 2019       Ganilau Park, Savusavu

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Waterways, Rural and Maritime Development, Honourable Jale Sigarara;
Assistant Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Fiji, Ms Joann Young;
Non Communicable Diseases Advisor - Food Security, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Mrs Karen Fukofuka;
The Commissioner Northern, Mr Jovesa Vocea;
Turaga Na Tui Nasavusavu, Ratu Golea Lovodua;
Pastor Dayal Patel;
Senior Officials from Government Ministries;
Farmers and Womens’ Organizations;
Parents, Teachers and Students;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

A very good morning to you all.

I am pleased and honoured to deliver these official remarks on the National Launch of World Food Day 2019.

Fiji has been celebrating World Food Day since 1981, and in doing so, has joined more than 100 countries in taking another important step against hunger and malnutrition.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation celebrates World Food Day each year on the 16th of October, which is the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.

Over the years, the World Food Day programme has involved collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organisation and a range of government agencies, civil society, faith based and non-government organizations to bring the World Food Day to ‘fruition’ every year.

The objectives of the World Food Day are to:
1. Encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;
2. Encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;
3. Encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and those in the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;
4. Heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;
5. Promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
6. Strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and nutrition, and agricultural development.
It also aligns with the Food Agriculture Organisation’s objective which is to heighten public awareness on the importance of providing well-balanced and nutritious meals as a contributing factor to childrens’ success in schools.
“OUR ACTIONS ARE OUR FUTURE. HEALTHY DIETS FOR A #ZEROHUNGER WORLD” has been chosen as the theme of this year’s World Food Day to highlight how agricultural practice needs to adapt to be resilient to climate change in order to feed a growing global population in a sustainable way.
In recent decades, we have dramatically changed our diets and eating habits as a result of globalization, urbanization, income growth and lifestyles. We have moved from seasonal, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich dishes to diets that are high in refined starches, sugar, fats, salt, processed foods, meat and other animal-source products.

Less time is spent in preparing meals at home and consumers, especially in urban areas, are increasingly relying on supermarkets, fast food outlets, street food vendors, take-away restaurants and fast highly processed foods with little or no nutritional value.Fiji is blessed with abundant local and fresh vegetables, fruits and crops that are available all year around.

Having fresh local crops is one thing, but actually consuming these fresh foods is a different matter altogether. Our population, in particular our children, ought to be eating the right foods and in the right proportions.

Acquiring a healthier lifestyle at a young age will contribute to better nutrition, better health as they grow older and greater academic success.  I cannot emphasise enough the impact that a healthy lifestyle will have on our children. 

A healthy and well-nourished child is able to reach his or her full academic and physical potential, is absent less often and even has higher test scores.

Nutrition choices that children make or have made for them today can dramatically affect their health, success and well-being tomorrow. 

The choices and eating habits developed today can determine whether our children lead long lives or die prematurely – the choice is that stark.

Some sectors of our population suffer from being underweight, overweight, obese, and from micronutrient deficiencies.

This triple burden of malnutrition is the coexistence of food insecurity, poor nutrition, overweight and obesity; often within the same households.

The Fijian Government has boosted social protection interventions aimed at lifting the most vulnerable out of poverty.

This is not only the moral thing to do; it makes good business sense too.

Inclusive development and equitable economic growth raises the purchasing power of those who are most disadvantaged, which in turn will create incremental demand, generate new jobs and jump start local economies.

Investing in the most vulnerable means investing in the future of Fiji.
The Government is also focusing on national strategies promoting synergies between social protection, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and health and education policies. We all can play a vital role in achieving #ZeroHunger and I call upon those of you in the public and private sectors and civil society to make a coordinated effort because no single entity can achieve national food and nutrition security on its own. 

Our knowledge and traditional practices are vital in a world where food production faces many challenges such as climate change and limited natural resources.

If we adopt Good Agricultural Practices for sustainable farming of organic produce that is nutritious, healthy and free of chemicals, we can not only feed ourselves, but contribute to a planet that is endangering its food sources. 

We are also marking the promotional launch of two new varieties of rice, Cagivou and Sitaraas.

Rice has contributed to improving the livelihood of thousands of Fijian farmers and families, as their main source of income and food security.

The Cagivou and Sitara rice varieties produce an average yield of about eight tons per hectare, offering an advantage over local varieties that yield three to four tons per hectare.

This marks a return on investment by Government through capital research and development programs.

Today we also celebrate the International Day of Rural Women to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Ensuring rural women’s access to productive agricultural resources contributes to decreasing world hunger and poverty, and improving livelihoods of our families and communities.

To achieve a food and nutrition secure Fiji, families and communities are encouraged to establish organic home gardens, and even schools can do the same.

Whatever we face, we know that we need to eat every day. Without food, before long we will cease to exist.

Food is important for learning, productivity and a good quality of life.
We can and must do better to choose fresh, tasty, healthy food that enhances our lives.

Wasting less, eating better and adopting a sustainable lifestyle are keys to building a nation free of hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

I am honoured to launch World Food Day 2019 here in Cakaudrove.

May Almighty God bless you all and our beloved Fiji!

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavaad, Faiek’sia and Thank you very much!