Food Security is defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” 1
The need for food security has emerged as a national priority, as global economic and environmental forces combine to threaten long-term food supply and prices.
The agricultural sector makes an important contribution to food security through domestic food production. The national strategy for food security integrates actions among health, environment, agriculture, foreign trade and hazard mitigation. Food security for Jamaica will provide for adequate, safe food supplies for proper dietary requirements, increased domestic food production for the population, informed food choices for a healthy lifestyle, and mitigation against food shortages resulting from natural and man-made hazards and emergency situations.
1 Food and Agricultural Organization. 2002. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001. Rome.
2 Ministry of Agriculture. (2008). Food Security in Jamaica. p. 20.
3 Turner-Pitt and Edwards (2006). Situational Analysis of Food and Nutrition in Jamaica. Ministry of Health, Kingston.
4 The Food and Nutrition Policy was first established in 1974 and has since undergone several revisions.
5 POPIN: United Nations Population Information Network
On average, food accounts for approximately 43% of the consumption expenditure of Jamaicans, which means that food accounts for the greatest proportion of national consumption and leaves consumers vulnerable to price shocks.2
Over the last three decades, Jamaica has moved increasingly toward a higher fat, more refined diet,3 and these dietary changes contribute to obesity and nutrition-related chronic diseases. Despite progress, the country has not fully achieved the objectives of the Food and Nutrition Policy 4 to provide adequate food and nutrition for all, due in part to issues of affordability and poor food choices. Our country remains at risk with respect to the supply of adequate nutrition to vulnerable segments of our population, and therefore the long-term health of the population is at risk.
The demand for food, emanating from population growth (world population has doubled since 1970 5) is pushing up prices because of the slow growth of global food supplies, the use of grain to fuel cars and the increasingly affluent populations of China and India.
Jamaica has to correct its heavy dependence on food imports and start producing and consuming more local foods if the country is to maintain an acceptable level of food security over time. Farmers also have an opportunity to expand local food production because the jump in the cost of imported food will increase the demand for local food. Increased local food production could save foreign exchange, generate employment and improve rural development.
Food security may be considered to have three dimensions: food availability; accessibility; and biological utilization. Food availability considers how domestic food requirements are met, whether from local production or imports. Food access relates to the ability of households and individuals to have the resources necessary to obtain food for nutritious diets, while utilization takes into account socioeconomic aspects of household food security including food preparation and conversion of food into energy.
Page Content Source: Agriculture Task Force (2009). Vision 2030 Jamaica - Agriculture Sector Plan. p 31.
Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries
Government of Jamaica