KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government says with the support of Cuba, it will be launching a wheat flour substitution program to combat the global shortage of the commodity and promote healthier eating among Jamaicans.
“With the support of the government of Cuba, (we will be) targeting breadfruit and cassava to create gluten-free flour as a healthy alternative to wheat,” said Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Pearnel Charles Jr.
The global wheat shortage has resulted from several factors, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change.
Charles Jr said that a significant number of Jamaicans are facing various health challenges, with data indicating that 25 per cent of the population is suffering from at least one chronic disease.
He said obesity among adults has also increased, and between the years 2010 and 2017, obesity among children has doubled.
“It urges us and so we will be updating the food and nutrition security policy to boost the consumption of locally grown nutritious foods,” Charles Jr. told the handover ceremony for the ‘Jamaica Food Systems Profile’ by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Jamaica is one of 50 countries that were included in the assessment carried out under the leadership of governments and in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for Development (CIRAD).
Charles said the report will “guide us in determining the plans and policies to be implemented to ensure that the people of Jamaica, and all in our region, have safe, nutritious and adequate supply of food”.
FAO Representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, Dr Crispim Moreira, said the assessment is a “gateway for national dialogue” and can be used to promote investment towards the sustainable transformation of food systems in the country.
“Central to this transformation is the strengthening of collaboration among stakeholders to ensure greater innovation and more efficient processes that fast-track our development and help us to be prepared for the changing times,” Moreira said.
Jamaica has had a strong relationship with the FAO over the years, having partnered on several initiatives aimed at increasing food security, such as the food loss and waste reduction program, the buy-back program and others.