ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 93 Special Issue 1, July 2016 International Breadfruit Conference
Agriculture, health and development in the Caribbean: The case for breadfruit
Agriculture, nutrition and health are intrinsically linked. Despite this, agriculture and food policies are driven by political, social, economic and other considerations with health often taking a backseat or being ignored completely in the relationship. This paper argues that there are incontestable reasons to consider the health sector as one of the important stakeholders while determining food and agriculture policies. Historically, the Caribbean has focused on making food available to consumers (through domestic production and imports); accessibility was recognized only insofar as attempts were made to maintain safety nets and minimum wages, and address unemployment. The consumption/utilization dimension of food (i.e., health impact) was scantily addressed. The assumption was that once the production/food availability problems were solved it would follow, ipso facto, that good health and nutrition will follow. The empirical evidence has not supported this assumption. This policy failure can be indicted for the critical health problems the region is now facing: • a deficit in fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, and legumes • adisplacement of traditional farming systems and high food import bill • a prevalence of nutrition-related diseases, viz., obesity and its co-morbidities (i.e., non-communicable chronic diseases—stroke, hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, some forms of cancers, etc. These are the main public health problems in the region and are major burdens to individuals and national budgets This paper makes the case for breadfruit as a nutritious, low cost option for product development and argues that the aggressive promotion of local staples can substantially enhance efforts to improve health and advance food security. This is essential if we are to reap synergistic benefits and stop the erosion of our overall development.
Keywords: Keywords: Nutrition related disease, agricultural policies, nutrition policies, low energy density, prices