Editorial
October 19, 2021
Sustainable farming and agro-processing – viable pathways to better lives

WORLD FOOD DAY 2021 was celebrated this year under a most insightful theme: “Our actions are our future, better production, better nutrition, a better environment and better life”.

The theme addresses the link between our agricultural practices today and the quality of life we will have tomorrow. The ways in which we produce, prepare and store the food we eat make us an integral part of our food systems. However, most of our current food systems are unsustainable and contribute to environmental degradation and climate change.

An encouraging part of the local celebrations this weekend was the launch of a project in which three community youth groups will be mentored so that they learn how to generate incomes from farming and agro-processing ventures. The project seeks to decrease youth unemployment, underemployment and poverty, through the development of agri-businesses.

We say “encouraging” because for the last few decades, the number of young people who have been participating in agriculture has been declining at an alarming rate, perhaps because they view agriculture as a dirty, low-income occupation. As our farmers age, their children abandon the rural farms, trading self-employment and businesses with unlimited earning potential for minimum wage jobs in Kingstown. Projects like this one sponsored by the FAO hopefully will enlighten our youth to the real opportunities available in agriculture for lucrative, sustainable self-employment.

World Food Day 2021 is the second to be observed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had devastating repercussions for food security and inequality worldwide in addition to the loss of livelihoods and incomes. As poverty and hunger go hand in hand, the emphasis of this year’s theme is timely. Better production in a better environment will provide better nutrition which will contribute to better lives.

The theme also focuses the attention of governments on designing more sustainable policies, promoting improved agricultural methods and motivating greater investment in sustainable healthy diets. The planet will need to support 10 billion people by 2050, placing even greater pressure on natural resources, the environment, and the climate. Even at a current level, food production often comes at an unacceptably high price, degrading or destroying natural habitats, contributing to species extinction, and costing trillions of dollars in lost and wasted resources. However, the good news is that there is plenty that can be done to adjust the situation, and put us and the planet back on the right path.

The project launched last weekend is but one such initiative. May it be the first of many.