"Food Security with Sovereignty in the Americas"
“Cognizant of the impact on food production of natural disasters, St Kitts & Nevis continues to seek international support for its efforts at disaster risk management and mitigation, as well to pursue avenues for rapid recovery and the developing of new methods to deal with their effects”.
Your Excellency, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, Chairman of these auspicious proceedings
Excellencies, Hemispheric Ministers of Foreign Affairs
Excellencies Heads of Delegations, Ambassadors, representative delegates
At the very outset, St Kitts & Nevis wishes to place on record its appreciation to the Government and peoples of the Plurinational State of Bolivia for the authentic Bolivian hospitality experienced, and for the display of affection and exemplary warmth extended to my delegation. Estamos entre familia aqui en Cochabamba. We have travelled far, and we have been made to feel at home amongst family.
An ancient African proverb warns that those who wish to work towards quick success should work alone while those who wish to work towards lasting success should work together. It is the hope of this delegation that this adage will continue to be the guiding principle of the OAS, and form the underlying ethos of this 42nd sitting of the OAS General Assembly.
St Kitts & Nevis remains a consistent voice for the fostering of peace among the family of OAS nations. Mister Chair, a family is like a forest; to those on the outside it is dense, but to us on the inside, we know that each tree in this forest has its place as an equal member. My country holds fast to the view that the entire membership hemorrhages when there are fundamental differences amongst us. Let us therefore not hide our heads in the sand on issues that are festering beneath the hemispheric surface. (Individuamente como naciones sobernas, y colectivamenta como un hemisfero, el DIALOGO hacia resoluciones pacificas siempre tiene su nacimiento en el alma, introspectivamente, para empezar, y mas alla, hacia afuera del alma en el espiritu de fraternidad y una paz no solo existente sino persistente. El dialogo, Senor Presidente, no tiene costo ninguno, al contrario, siempre vale la inversion el costo de la paz.)
Individually and collectively, the dialogue towards peaceful resolutions ought to start introspectively, at first, and then outwardly in the spirit of brotherhood towards a harmonious peace which not only exists but persists.
Dialogue, Mr Chair, costs nothing, but Peace is always worth the expense!
The central theme of ‘Food Security with Sovereignty in the Americas’ encapsulates a fundamental and principled goal of St Kitts & Nevis in working towards food security and nutrition security, and towards investment in agriculture particularly at the level of small and commercial scale farming, infrastructure, appropriate technology and training. In this regard, Sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical assistance in plant and animal husbandry, quarantine systems and capacity-building in these areas are immensely important to St Kitts & Nevis in the quest for food security.
Committed as my country is to the laudable goal of food security, St Kitts & Nevis acknowledges the many obstacles to be overcome. Natural disasters are a common threat to food production, along with climate change, environmental and other forms of pollution, outdated and counterproductive agricultural practices, and the vagaries of seasonal dry periods which can result in droughts. Combined with the equally valiant threat to fishing of reef degradation, these cumulatively accrue to the detriment of fishers whose livelihoods depend on healthy marine life, and consequently on the overall capacity of our country’s food security. Given the reality that many families rely on fish and fish products for their consumption and for the creation of income generating opportunities, any threat to the marine food chain constitutes a threat both to the health and welfare of our people, and to food security.
Cognizant of the impact on food production of natural disasters, St Kitts & Nevis continues to seek international support for its efforts at disaster risk management and mitigation, as well to pursue avenues for rapid recovery and the developing of new methods to deal with their effects. Clearly, agricultural literacy through training must run parallel, engaging traditional and modern knowledge and technologies, and critical financial support.
As in the case of many of our hemispheric neighbours, the twin scourges of unemployment and undernourishment complement these aggressively persistent challenges and are, themselves, precursors to poverty.
Almost half of the population of my country is under the age of 20 and the government has wisely decided to be consistently innovative in prioritizing economic diversification with a focus on agricultural diversification towards self-sufficiency in food production. The quest is a continuous work in progress if successes achieved are to be maintained.
The consistency of poverty rates for households headed by women is one that St Kitts & Nevis has sought to tackle with vigour through land allocation for small, medium and large scale farming, and a retooling of former sugar workers who are encouraged to grow traditional and other food crops for family, community and national consumption with the support of government through supplied water and concessionary rates for faming equipment, seeds and supplies. St Kitts & Nevis Government has made agriculture a priority in the development agenda by identifying the sector as one of the pillars of transformation which would not only ensure food security, but also facilitate employment and revenue generation.
Mr Chair, the OAS is a repository of potential and goodwill. It ought well to be. Even with the growing uncertainty in the global food market characterized by natural disasters, dependence on biofuels and escalating food prices, this hemisphere is more than capable of feeding itself. It is a fount of technological know-how, capacity and financial means. Let us therefore as nations renew our pledge to work collaboratively as one family, one hemisphere of nations who abide by the guiding principles of the founding charter to which we subscribe to the end that food security becomes a more realizable objective towards the sustainable peace and prosperity of our nations and our hemisphere.
Thank you for your attention.