Liberia: 'Make Healthy, Sustainable Diets Accessible to Everyone'

opinion

Authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and its partners on October 16, 2019 observed this year's World Food Day in Monrovia in a brief, but well organized ceremony.

World Food Day is a day set aside by the United Nations for action dedicated to tackling global hunger. It is held every year on October 15 by people from around the world, who come together to declare their commitment to eradicate worldwide hunger.

This year's celebration was held under the theme, "Our Actions are Our Future; Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World", and calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone.

Mariatou Njie, country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Liberia, told food actors at the opening ceremony that while it is true that the celebration focuses on healthy diets and eradicating hunger, there is also a need to address all forms of malnutrition.

Recent data shows that malnutrition is increasing across all regions of the world and income groups.

Delivering the WFD message on behalf of FAO director general, Qu Dongyu, to the government and people of Liberia, Madam Njie said, "WFD 2019 calls for actions to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible to everyone. For this reason, partnership is fundamental in achieving the goal. It shall involve farmers, governments, researchers, the private sector, and consumers to play their respective roles."

She added that farmers need better incentives to increase and diversify their production of high quality food.

"Governments need to adopt policies to improve food standard, and regulations that ensure the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious food. Research institutions need to provide the best scientific advice that will push the boundaries of knowledge and technology," she told her audience.

She said that her institution is using integrated garden approach for farmers to improve their nutrition as a way of reducing malnutrition.

Robert K. Fagans, Senior Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development, said that President George Weah's administration take seriously the issue of improving food security to better the lives of the citizens.

He said that with the support of partners and the citizens, the country can attain food self-sufficiency.

"Although our agriculture sector was completely broken down as the result of the war, and there exists many challenges confronting farmers with concerted effort we are able to eliminate hunger," he said.

He said that the MoA is supporting smallholder farmers to graduate from subsistence farming.

"The celebration serves as a time for us to make good choices for our food to avoid waste," he said.

Mr. Fagans said to make sure that Liberia move forward with food production, the Weah's administration has signed Executive Order #97 that reduced the cost of all agricultural products to make inputs more affordable to farmers.

He added that the government has also provided scholarships to several young people to seek advance studies in agriculture.

At the occasion, the food actors outlined many challenges that are still hampering production, including limited extension services for farmers, low budgetary allocation for agriculture, and the high rate of malnutrition. The food actors therefore, called for concerted efforts to address the challenges to reduce hunger.

Each year, over 150 countries join the celebration of World Food Day. It is one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Hundreds of events and outreach activities bring together governments, businesses, NGOs, the media, farmers and the public. The WFD promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.

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