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Sunday 15 December 2019
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Tobago

Eat local, reduce imported foods

Charles advises at World Food Day

Sheldon Cunningham, right, Assistant Secretary, Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Environment, with representatives of URP office, as they display agriculture produce for sale at World Food Day in Bacolet on Wednesday. PHOTO BY DAVID REID  - DAVID REID
Sheldon Cunningham, right, Assistant Secretary, Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Environment, with representatives of URP office, as they display agriculture produce for sale at World Food Day in Bacolet on Wednesday. PHOTO BY DAVID REID - DAVID REID

Tobagonians were encouraged to change their eating habits so that the island’s agriculture sector can develop and a healthier lifestyle in young people can be promoted.

The advice was given by Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles at the opening of Tobago’s two-day World Food 2019 celebrations in Bacolet on Wednesday. Following this year's theme – Our action is our future – Charles reminded citizens of their role in determining whether, in years to come, “we face abundance or whether we face lack of abundance.”He said even though it’s not unknown that most of the imported goods coming into TT is processed and linked to an increased risk of several non-communicable diseases, “it remains more of a lamentation that is yet to be transformed into real action.” He added that “input directly affects output” and Tobagonians must “start connecting present decisions with future outcomes, regarding both our personal wellbeing as well as our island’s development.”Stressing that actions have consequences, Charles said, "This wisdom has been handed down from our ancestors and has also been taught to our children. This is why I am led to believe that type of thinking still exists in some measure in the collective thinking of our people.”

Edson George, left, sells a bottle of pure honey to a couple of happy customers at World Food Day on Wednesday in Bacolet. - DAVID REID

He encouraged Tobagonians to continue to enforce proper eating habits in their children which will be “one that can yield a very promising harvest.”He said the change Tobago hopes to see from its agriculture sector will only materialise from what “we plant and rear mentally.”"Now is the time for us to tweak our mindset which may be harmful and which may prevent us from realising our fullest potential.”He said Tobagonians must move away from the growing dependency on imported processed foods. The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has already began to promote local and healthy eating.According to Charles, these efforts will continue to reverse the heavy dependency of imported food through the Eat Local programme.

Charles said he was most pleased when he saw younger Tobagonians showing interest in agriculture, through THA skill training programmes, earlier this year.

“There are some who do not view those involved in the industry with the dignity and the respect that they so rightly deserved.” He reminded Tobagonians, “Our food production and food security constitute a large part of the future we enjoy dreaming about and this is the issue that shouldn’t escape us, as food will always be one of man's most basic needs.

Debra Arthur, left, and Roxanne Arthur of Arthur's Plant Shop display a variety of plants at World Food Day, held at Parade Ground, Bacolet. - DAVID REID

"Time is crucial and the gift of the present must be utilised to make pressing concerns known and to conceptualise and employ suitable solutions.”

He called on farmers to remember their part in the management of Tobago’s natural resources. Charles also urged them to be open to the procurement and use of new technology to boost the sector. “Indeed, our ambitions are great and we want to increase our agriculture output and being to export as an island. However, it beseeches us to take care of that we already possess.”

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