Barton A. Clarke
The Caribbean is in the midst of a health crisis!
It has been listed as the Region in the Americas with the highest mortality rates for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Likewise, overweight and obesity in particular childhood obesity are of increasing concern and a growing challenge across CARICOM. Unfortunately, the Region also holds the record for having the highest rates of obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Particiculary worrying is the statistics that one in every three children in the Caribbean is overweight or obese.
The transitioning of the Caribbean diet from predominantly fresh wholesome produce to heavily processed, energy dense, nutrient deficient foods rich in fats, salt and sugar has been identified as one of the causal linkages to this epidemic.
The agriculture sector, holds the key to improving the health and nutrition of the peoples across the Region. CARDI is extremely pleased that the theme “Strengthening agriculture for a healthier future in the region” will bring to the fore the inextricable link between agriculture and health.
For too long the agriculture-health nexus has been overlooked.
We are optimistic that the practitioners and policy makers gathered here during the week together with our multi sectoral partners will work together to develop concrete plans of action for jointly tackling these challenges in critical areas such as strengthening agricultural value chains especially for traditional commodities, food safety systems, education and public awareness, development of coordinated policies and a supportive legislative framework.
CARDI stands ready and willing to partner with all entities towards taking bold action for developing a productive and resilient agriculture sector. A healthy diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. We are committed to leaving a legacy of good health and nutrition to our future generations. Countries and by extension the region will reap the benefits of producing healthy children.
During the week we will be partnering with key national, regional and international agencies to host a series of events geared towards improving the productivity and sustainability of the region’s agriculture sector. Focus will be placed on commodities such as coconuts and small ruminants and the thematic area of climate change.
I wish to take this opportunity to welcome each of you to my home, Barbados.
CARDI is immensely privileged to be associated with the organising and co-hosting of CWA 2018. On behalf of CARDI’s Governors and Directors, management, staff and on my own behalf, I wish the Government and people of Barbados and indeed the entire Region a very productive and meaningful CWA 2018.