NAME: SAMANTHA PERSAD
I am in 100% agreement with this statement. The current state of the health sector in the Pacific Island countries is plagued with widespread obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to name a few as well as a high mortality rate. The fact that the markets/retail outlets continuously restock imported processed foods, the locally healthy fresh produce are being ‘priced out’. They replaced the diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish with a diet loaded with flour, meats and a range of processed foods high in sugar and fat. Traditionally, the island of Crete, food security was largely guaranteed by freshly grown local produce; such as fruits and vegetables and freshly caught fish, and was supplemented by income from export of produce to Greece and other parts of the Pacific. However, there was a boom in Globalization and the adaptation to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, which negatively impacted the locally grown produce.
While these same foods and incomes remain a mainstay of food security today, farmers and fishers from the island of Crete and by extension the Pacific, are having difficulty remaining competitive, both in export and domestic markets. This is largely due to semi-subsistence producers being too poor to buy the modern farm inputs as they need to transition into commercial production and distribution. Pacific island countries also generally lack the capacity to process local foods into the “convenience packaged” products that have become increasingly popular in urban markets. This has been red flagged by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as they had various meetings and discussion papers on this particular topic. They stressed the need to restore a viable market for local food producers and reduce demand on imported products to bare minimum; and one of the ways in which this can be done to take a policy-driven, multi-sector approach. They further went on to emphasize that the job is too small for one organization to tackle, the only way to combat the problem and increase the availability and consumption of locally produced island foods strongly requires action by both public and private sectors, and support from other concerned groups outside the agriculture sector.
If there is maximum cooperation by all sectors of society and the implementation of new guidelines/ policies the health issues that invaded these islands with the increase in processed foods would decrease significantly, which would consequently cause the mortality rate to decrease. By providing farmers with a grant or some sort of financial stability in the form off a loan etc. can help maintain existing farms and encourage new farmers to get into the trade. Lowering the taxations on certain amenities can also help the struggling farmer continue the trade. Lastly by incorporating the agricultural sector into another sector would also ensure that the production of locally grown produce is kept available period. One such situation occurred in the island of Crete as the tourism sector overtook the agricultural sector as the major source of income and employment on the island. However by meshing the two sectors together it ensured the agricultural sector is alive and running to date, which in turn means a constant growth in locally grown produce.
This problem cannot only be fixed by a change in diet or consumption of healthy locally grown foods, but actually performing some form of physical activity. Therefore, by having regular schedule activities set up by the government or private sector that is open to the public would encourage the Pacific Islanders to participate in such activities, by constructing exercise machinery at local parks and have documentaries aired on local television stations would make the public more aware of their eating habits and persuade them to make the switch from processed foods to the locally grown produce and to engage in regular physical activity.
This is only the beginning, there is much more work to be done, but if the Pacific Islanders continue along the path entailed above they would definitely yield great benefits in terms of health and well being etc.
Pacific Islands Report on Evans et al (2001) – Globalisation, Diet & Health: An Example from Tonga, Bulletin of the WHO, 79 (9): 856-62.
Dow, Allan. “FAO – News Article: Pacific Island Countries Urged To Produce More Healthy Local Foods At Competitive Prices”. Fao.org. N.p., 2017.
“UN News – Pacific Island Countries Urged To Produce More Healthy, Competitive Foods – UN”. UN News Service Section. N.p., 2017. Web.