Not very often do we see our state agencies working for the good and benefit of the Jamaican people, however, since the start of 2012, the Food and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID) has been doing just that. The agency has confiscated two separate shipments of contaminated food destined for consumption by the Jamaican consumer. The first shipment was that of some 1000 metric tons of imported rice from the United States of America and the other shipment was that of red peas imported from Belize.
In both instances dead rodents and or frogs were found among the shipments. While I can understand the need for us to import rice given the popularity of the staple in the diet of many Jamaicans, and our inability to grow adequate amount I at a lost that we should be importing red peas also another popular food item with the Jamaican consumer. It is clear that the Ministry of Agriculture needs to encourage more farmers to go into red peas and rice production to ensure food security and food safety of the nation.
The issues of food security and food safety have not been given the attention it deserves over the years by successive governments. Food security has become a national security issue. Food security refers to the availability of enough food, water and energy to meet the needs of a population. If a nation cannot adequately provide food for its people and therefore dependent on food, and or food aid from an external source that nation becomes a pawn of the donor nation, and is susceptible to all alien cultures and vice that usually accompanies any such gift. The donor nation usually uses food donations to spread its dominance and culture in what can be classified as neo-colonialism. The availability of and access to food is directly linked to prosperity and stability of a nation. It is therefore very important that we socialize our people to eat what we grow, and grow what we eat.
Food Security is also a Human Rights issue. The right to be free from hunger and malnutrition is a fundamental human right of every woman, man, youth and child.
This takes on added importance and significance given the fact that some 925 million people of the 7 billion people in the world are hungry.
Given the recent confirmation in the United States of America of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, it is heartening and reassuring to know that we have an agency that is geared towards protecting the food safety and food security of the Jamaican consumer.
Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.