Mixing More Voices into Food Policy

NAME: AMANDA SOOKDEO                                      ID NO.: 812117269

Population growth and rapid urbanization combined with other stresses such as climate change, extreme weather conditions and environmental degradation add to the already growing pressure of obtaining food security hence food policies are imposed on building a sustainable food system. Ellis (1996) defines food policy as the incorporation of governmental efforts to minimize factors negatively affecting the supply, distribution and consumption of food and hence ensure that citizens have a continuous access to sufficient amounts of food. Food policy focuses mainly on the adequacy of staple foods vital for the survival of the people in a country, not only the production of food. Food policy also deals with rectifying the disproportion between the availability of food and obtaining access to the food, varying/unequal incomes and poverty hinders food accessibility and causes incidences of starving or undernutrition in different sectors of a population.

The article titled “Mixing More Voices into Food Policy,” by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) discusses the innovative initiative of both IIED and Hivos together with the Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC) working with a ‘Food Change Lab’ in the western region of Uganda to include not only the voices of municipal authorities but also that of the citizens; including low-income farmers (suppliers), informal traders and vendors (distributors) and rural Ugandan households (consumers). These voices assist in ‘molding’ a food system that would benefit everyone since those aforementioned are the people who spend a huge portion of their income on food and are therefore directly affected. Mixing More Voices into Food Policy (2016) states that some food policies often fail because it does not reflect the livelihood of those it targets which I completely agree with, having regular citizens voice their concerns and/or opinions will bring forth underlying food and nutrition issues.

The Food system in Uganda is limited by a number of factors such as inadequate financial services, poor agricultural facilities, inadequate storage and processing facilities, poor food sales and the over-dependence on rain sustained agriculture. Vision 2040, Uganda’s National Planning Document, discusses intentions for an accelerated shift from sustenance farming to commercial agriculture which was one of the issues discussed in the ‘change lab.’ Change labs are social spaces that welcome the emergence of innovations and the testing of inventions. While there are many advantages to a ‘change lab’ the lab remains a medium for discussion and still requires authorization for the implementation of any policy by Uganda’s government. While countries aim to create food security for citizens a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions can destroy all efforts in a matter of minutes. There are no measures in place to deal with a naturally occurring phenomenon.

“Mixing Voices into Food Policy” is an effective initiative to deal with food security not only in the Western Region of Uganda but should be implemented throughout the country and countries in the world. To encourage meaningful discussions that lead to successful inventions or sustainable solutions in the ‘change labs’ small incentives can be given to those citizens and encourage others to participate. Most importantly, together we can raise awareness on the importance of food and nutrition and achieve a hygienic, nutritious food system.



Ellis, Frank. 1996. Agricultural Policies in Developing Countries. 1st ed. Cambridge [u.a.]:            Cambridge Univ. Press.

Jongen, W. M. F, and M. T. G Meulenberg. 2005. Innovation In Agri-Food Systems. 1st ed.          Wageningen: Wageningen Publishers.

“Mixing More Voices into Food Policy”. 2016. International Institute for Environment And            Development. https://www.iied.org/mixing-more-voices-food-policy.




Bio-energy is energy derived from biological sources (biomass). Biomass is an organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. This includes materials from plants, animals, wood, waste, manure, (hydrogen) gas, and alcohol fuels; to name a few. Wood is the most common biomass source. For thousands of years it has been used for cooking and heating. Bio-energy is a renewable energy source that can provide heat, make fuels and generate electricity. The rapidly changing world we live in requires a significant amount of fuel to power all its technologies and lifestyles. As such energy and environmental policies have been implemented in an attempt to prolong our natural resources. This, combined with several other factors, suggest that bio-energy sector can be affected by issues related to Sustainability, Livelihood, Education and Governance (SLEG).

A report published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UK’s Department of International Development on April 8, 2009 suggest that small scale biomass and other bio-energy projects can play a significant role in rural and local community development in poor countries. This study was conducted in 15 different “start-up” bio-energy projects from 12 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Some of the benefits highlighted includes:

  • An increase in the efficiency of natural resources since waste products that would have been burnt or left to rot can be put to use to produce energy.
  • Fertilizers as a by-product from bio-gas production.
  • The use of intercropping to possibly produce food and fuel at the same time.
  • The generation of new capital with growth cycles by making use of marginal land.

As with everything there are some concerns associated with bio-energy production by rural poor. As previously mentioned wood is the most well-known biomass form and is used extensively in rural communities throughout the world as a source of heat and for cooking. In some parts of Africa wood fuel accounts for up to 90% of energy consumption. This has led to concerns over deforestation. Several studies have however suggested that fuel wood is not a driver for large scale deforestation but can still contribute to forest degradation and have negative impacts on forest health and bio-diversity.

Other major concerns are centralized around governance. Most communities are poor because of a lack of proper governance and political crisis. In order to ensure these bio-fuel and bio-energy projects exhibit long term benefits, there must not only be sufficient funding but also proper management of all the necessary components. The people have to be educated on the uses and benefits of bio-energy since to numerous rural villagers this is a new, unfamiliar field that may be greeted with some resistance.

Once these and other hurdles are overcome bio-energy can be a very promising avenue for the enrichment of the lives of many less fortunate individuals.

Status of the Caribbean-AmericanFoods Market

Name: Kay Narineingh

Student # 807003376

What is the Status of the Caribbean-American Foods Market Blog


I applaud the National Caribbean-American Foods and Foodways Alliance (NCAFFA) for creating a hub for connecting students, persons, businesses and organizations who share an interest in Caribbean foods. I find their goal of using educational tools and food systems “foodways” to strengthen community very intriguing. However, one might ask which community.


Caribbean export agriculture has the potential to increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP), access to foreign exchange, drive competitive productivity and reduce unemployment and poverty according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2008. (Kendall P. et. al.) Small producers/ farmers from the Caribbean are constantly competing with international supplier of the same goods. It is constantly becoming less cost effective to compete on the international market as quantity goods produced may be insufficient and greater land access for farming continues to be a constraint on the islands.


The demand in the Caribbean food market may be expanding but is not readily felt in the Caribbean, especially not by our local farmers. Caribbean export revenues averaged an annual decline of 2.5% between 1994 to 2004.(Kendall P. et. al.) Mention was made of an ever growing recognition of “jerk” which is synonymous with Jamaica, it can also be noted that there has been a decline in exports of goods from Jamaica of US$305m (1996) to US$260m (2000), 35.7% of which is exported to the United States (New Agriculturist 2014).


Also, in light of the “demand for small farm production of Caribbean foods adaptable to short growing periods in northern climates “, this is a direct onslaught on Caribbean farmers. If farming is conducted in the U.S. can we really have any rights to that food at all? Is it still “Caribbean”? It may turn out to be another American franchise with some shadow of the Caribbean in it.

As appreciative of the Caribbean way of life and our cooking the NCAFFA may be, their heart for the Caribbean fades when it comes to ‘Home’. How do all its goals, successes and food fairs translate to the growth of the Caribbean communities? Yes, love the food; establish the cuisine in Washington and all across the U.S., but at the end of the day sustainable avenues should be created to secure revenue to the very Caribbean islands from which these cuisines were developed. Steps should be taken to preserve the Caribbean way of life and its food and all exporting of “Caribbean” should benefit the island/s from which these unpatented food ideas/inventions were extracted, instead of leaving room for monopolizing or selling to the “better “market.

The NCAFFA areas of interest should emphasize positive contributions to Caribbean employment to encourage equitable distribution of income in Caribbean homes. They have great potential in being instrumental in fostering change in the Caribbean on a community level through poverty reduction, increased food security and the encouragement of sustainable farming.




Kendall, P. , Petracco M. The Current State and Future of Caribbean Agriculture http://www.caribank.org/uploads/publications-reports/staff-papers/agripaper8-1.pdf; Accessed 2017.04.10

New Agriculturist. January 2004. Country Profile Jamaica

http://www.new-ag.info/en/country/profile.php?a=856; Accessed 2017.04.11

Pacific Island Countries Urged to Produce More Healthy Local Foods at Competitive Prices

ZOE WHITE- 812005241


This article elaborates the predicament with respect to the food system that the pacific islands are currently facing. Through further research the facts presented in this article are agreeably accurate. The Pacific Islands have become heavily dependent on imported foods. With that said, many Pacific islanders have replaced their traditional diets of vegetables, fruits and fish with imported foods such as flour, rice and meat as well as processed foods high in salt, sugar and fats. Due to globalization, lifestyle, and population increase and expansion this has led to altered patterns of food production and consumption in the Pacific Islands. This shift in their diet in addition to their high reliance on importations has significantly impacted the human diet and the overall livelihood of the people. Ultimately, this has led to high rates of obesity, diabetes and death rates.

The agriculture sector and export production continues to decline and is no longer the main economic driver of the Pacific Islands. Input from the public and private sector as well as policy makers are required to rectify this problem. Implementation of policies to lessen this burden are to be considered. It is clear from this article that there needs to be a balance in the Pacific Islands exports and imports. To reduce the account deficit, they must decrease their imports or increase their exports to reach a balance. Usually, a boost in manufacturing sector decreases dependency on imports and increases the export capacity and is considered a solution. Another point of concern which is driving this dilemma is cost. Imported products are sold at a much cheaper price than local products. As such this serves as an incentive to purchase imported foods as opposed to local foods.

To improve the current issue of health problems and high death rates, it is important to implement strategies to combat it. Educating citizens specifically in schools from a young age of the consequences of consuming large amounts of processed food vs eating healthy whole foods is one way of doing so. Also, starting fitness programs in schools to get students active is detrimental. Eating well accompanied with exercise will help to decrease the existing problems and move in a more positive direction.


Snowdon, Wendy, and A. M. Thow. “Trade policy and obesity prevention: challenges and innovation in the Pacific Islands.” Obesity reviews 14.S2 (2013): 150-158.

Okihiro, M., and R. Harrigan. “An overview of obesity and diabetes in the diverse populations of the Pacific.” Ethnicity & disease 15.4 Suppl 5 (2004): S5-71.

The World v.s Climate Change


Vishal Akash Harnarine

The article highlights how climate change can affect food systems around the world whether it is regionally or globally and how economies will be affected by these changes. The article points out that food shocks can have devastating impacts on many different types of groups around the world. It also highlights the effects that the lower class will experience due to these food shocks. Another important aspect that was pointed out by this article was how natural phenomena’s can have negative impact of a country’s economy but how that event can affect the rest of the world. The example of the 2012 drought in America’s Midwest was used and the crops that were affected were maize and soybean. This event spiked the world wide soybean prices.

Elliott made a very important point with the frequency aspect of these natural events. He stated that “If extreme events happen irregularly enough, that’s OK, because you might have 10 or 20 good years before you get a truly extreme bad year, and so that frequency isn’t enough to really try to breed for or prepare technologically for those extreme events. But as extreme events start to become more frequent and more severe, that’s likely to no longer be the case, and we may have to actually completely reframe how we breed crops, how we develop new management strategies so that we can actually breed for variance, and breed for resilience, not just breed for yield.” With the intensity for global warming changing for the worse, events are occurring faster, for longer periods of time and increasing in intensity.

The topic at hand was included in the AgMIP (Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project) workshop. This is a response to address and fight back against this worldwide issue. By taking this stance this shows that people around the world are concerned about what is happening and this is a good way of addressing the about climate change and how it impacts our food.

In conclusion this article shows the harsh effects that not only the country directly impacted by a natural event but how the ripple effect can affect the world. This shows that this is a good starting point to addressing climate change and food shocks but it must be continued and intensified not only in one area but around the world.

“Mixing more voices into food policy” by Jewel Paul- 814000878


It is well known that diversity in agriculture is great, not only for our health but also the earth’s health. But what about diversity when it comes to our voices? Our voices in shaping our food systems and policies across the globe…

Any decision, program or project that is endorsed by a government agency, business, or organization which affects how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, protected and disposed is a food policy. Food policy functions at the global, national, provincial, regional, local and institutional levels. World Trade Organization regulations, welfare policies, farm subsidies and labeling ideals are some instances of higher level polices that influence the food system. map

The map above shows the mean agricultural area by sub-national administrative unit in three global regions namely South America, Africa and Europe (Asia). Areas like China and Iran are almost totally covered in red, depicting that there’s little agricultural productivity. Although agriculture is of great significance for China, its share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is declining. China uses 9% of world arable land to support 21% of its population, ensuring enough food for over one billion people.

In order to combat food policy problems on a global scale, symposiums and other widespread educational forums for example social media and blogs can be used to engage everyone and thus “mix more voices into food policies”. Topics such as Child Nutrition, Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods, Trade and Climate Change should be discussed.

In concluding, a fully clad food system for the 21st century will attempt to address numerous challenges, not lessen all to a meek formula of ‘produce more, make it cheaper, and leave it to consumers’.


  • “IonE Researchers Produce First-ever Map of Farming Households across World.” University of Minnesota Twin Cities. N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

  • , Guoqiang Dr Cheng, Deputy Director-General and Senior Fellow, and Development Research Center Of. Gcheng@drc.gov.cnOutline of Presentation(n.d.): n. Web. 09 Apr. 2017.

How Bio-energy Benefits Rural Poor.

Nekesa Llewellyn – 814004205

Bio-energy refers to renewable energy which is produced from biological organisms, such as plants and animals. Bio energy mostly derives from agricultural land, waste products and forests. It is the conversion of biomass resources into energy carriers through three processes chemical, thermal and biochemical.  Feedstocks are grown for their specific use for bio-fuels. Some crops include starch or sugar based plants, like sugar cane or corn.

With regards to the study it highlights that bio-energy produced on a small scale level in communities, can play an important role in rural development in poor countries, according to a new report jointly published by FAO and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2011, most of the world’s poor dwell in rural communities in developing countries, with limited or no access to modern energy services. Due to this lack of access of modern energy, it not only affects economic productivity but also affects other basic essential necessities, such as health care and education.

The study highlights, that poverty in rural communities is linked to economic and social issues such as lack of government investment and overpopulation in communities. Local resident who resides in rural communities are of concern, recent study shows that access to modern energy in impoverished communities helps alleviate poverty and enhance rural development (Casillas and Kammen, 2010). However there are growing concerns regarding bio-fuels and there effect on environmental sustainability, water security and food security in these communities, these concerns provide an opportunity for bio-fuels to be done correctly. If done correctly bio-energy can increase economic opportunities and increase rural development, by providing cleaner and efficient energy.

Thus the benefits of using bio-energy include: the increase in natural resource efficiency, as energy is created from waste products. Inter-cropping can be utilized to produce food and fuel crops, and affordable fertilizers can be produced using by-products from bio-gas production. lastly the creation of new financial capital with growth cycles by making use of marginal land.

As stated in the article, the introduction of bio-fuels can benefit rural communities. It encourages sustainable land use and food security in these communities. Through the investment in bio-energy, it provides jobs and income in communities, where they can contribute to the food system (Production, Processing, Distribution, Consumption and Disposal).

Subsequently, the development of bio-energy would create both positive and negative effects for rural communities, as it mainly uses forest and agricultural crops for energy production, but it also encourages sustainable use of the land as fast growing trees and crops are planted. Since the articles focuses on the benefits of bio-energy, investing in bio-energy is beneficial for rural development.


“Bioenergy: The Potential for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation.” Accessed April 09, 2017. file:///C:/Downloads/Bioenergy_PotentialForDevelopment_SPM.pdf.

Caribbean-American Foods Market

Shari Thomas – 814004196

Caribbean foods have gained considerable popularity within the United States, particularly over the course of the past three decades. A likely reason for this is the increased frequency of migration and travel. Many West Indians have opted to relocate to the United States, carrying with them their own cultural backgrounds and culinary expertise. Typically “Caribbean” foods such as callaloo, Jamaican patties and jerk chicken, stew chicken, roti and plantains have become far more accessible throughout the States. (Wharton 2015). A multitude of highly successful restaurants have been opened by West Indians, such as the Food Sermon in Brooklyn, Caribbean Delite in Miami and Havana Grill in Chicago. The success of these restaurants is fueled by Americans’ increased exposure to Caribbean foods through their travels to Caribbean countries, especially during the Carnival seasons.

It is interesting to note, however, that although Caribbean culture has had a significant impact on American cuisine, so too has American culture impacted Caribbean cuisine. This is evident in the multitude of fast food chain restaurants that can be found in any given Caribbean territory. These include KFC, Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and many others. These fast food restaurants are highly successful, with a KFC branch in Bahamas even achieving a record-breaking number of sales on opening day. American cuisine is even managing to displace Caribbean cuisine in some hotels across the English-speaking Caribbean. (Geddes 2001, 27). This may be due in part to a desire to aspire to the status of developed countries such as the U.S. by eating what they eat.

Based on the article, it is clearly evident that Caribbean culture is rapidly being incorporated into American cuisine. However, the same factors that have contributed to this increase in popularity of Caribbean-American foods have also contributed to a comparable increase in penetration of the Caribbean food market by American cuisine. It must be noted, however, that American cuisine was met with significantly less resistance in the Caribbean market as compared to that experienced by Caribbean foods in the U.S.
Geddes, Bruce. 2001. “Lonely Planet World Food Caribbean.” Melbourne: Lonely Planet Publications.

Wharton, Rachel. 2015. “The New Caribbean Food Movement.” Accessed April 10, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/dining/caribbean-food-nyc.html?_r=1

The Benefits and Challenges of Bio-Energy to the rural poor

Keeran Ramdial- 814002035

Bio-energy simply put refers to the energy obtained from bio-fuels which is acquired from sources of biomass. This may be through either direct or indirect sources, for example wood, charcoal. It is regarded as being neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The study highlights a vast amount of potential benefits of the use of bio-energy in rural communities. Benefits include: natural resource efficiency increases through the recycling of waste that that would be left to decomposed,  creation of functional and affordable by-products, possible food and fuel production through inter-cropping and the creation of new financial capital.

The cases examined in the study did not illustrate complications between bio-energy production and food security because crops used were not for food or they were grown on unused land.

However, an important area that was not adequately highlighted in the study is the challenges that are encountered or possible challenges that may possibly be encountered with the use of bio-energy. The principal challenge according to Energy Manager Today is low oil prices. This makes bio-energy a less competitive alternative energy source. An additional concern is the decrease of carbon stocks in forests through deforestation as well as the clearance of carbon rich grassland areas for plantations as well as agriculture for use in biomass production.

Furthermore, the possible risk of increasing emissions as the unit ratio of energy production from biomass to energy is higher than that of fossil fuel energy. This assumption comes from two separate studies done. BirdLife Europe concluded that the use of wood energy in the European Union would contribute to 100-150million tons of carbon dioxide annually during a 20 year period. Furthermore, the Natural Resource Defense Council proposes that wood pellets would be accountable  for more carbon dioxide emissions than fossil fuels  during the next half century.

The study further shows that bio-energy is often adopted to assist in times of energy crises but usually switches back to oil when prices drops.

Weinschenk, Carl. “Advances and Challenges for the Bioenergy Sector.” Energy Manager Today. November 24, 2015. Accessed April 11, 2017. https://www.energymanagertoday.com/advances-challenges-for-bioenergy-0120484/.