16 October, 2020. This year’s World Food Day instituted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) marks its 75th anniversary. The world has achieved many successes in agriculture, food security and addressing starvation and malnutrition in vulnerable communities. We still have far to go in our global path to eradicate hunger, achieve food security and streamline our industries and services to become COVID-19 resilient and safe.
What are the threats to the food and agriculture industry in the Caribbean?
The Caribbean has multiple threats to its food and agriculture sector. Some of these threats include but are not limited to:
- Vulnerability to climate change and increasing strengths of natural disasters
- Economic shocks
- Persistent levels of undernutrition and rapidly increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity
- Foodborne disease outbreaks
- Gender gaps for women in farming and agriculture
- The COVID-19 pandemic
How can the Caribbean effectively and sustainably, address food security and nutritional challenges?
- Governments must create an enabling environment for food security and nutrition.
- Sustainable, resilient and nutrition-sensitive food systems
- Empowered women and communities for improved food security and nutrition
- Implementing the five (5) keys of food safety to prevent foodborne disease outbreaks and promote food safety
- Increase health promotion activities for healthy, nutrient-balanced diets
Can COVID-19 be transmitted to persons via food and water?
No. It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food items and/or food packaging. To date there has been no evidence to support the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to humans from food.
Can the SARS-CoV-2 virus grow on food?
No. Coronavirus cannot grow on food. Though the virus can survive on surfaces there is no evidence to show its presence on food, causing transmission to humans.
Is there any new method to wash fruits and vegetables in a time of COVID-19?
No. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and clean, potable water, before washing fruits and vegetables.
Is it safe to support grocery stores, food and farmers’ markets during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes. Persons are required to take the necessary precautions on entering.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- If soap and clean water, with disposable hand towels, are not readily available, clean your hands with sanitizer on entering.
- Wear a mask.
- Maintain social distancing of 6 feet.
- Upon returning home, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds. Also, wash your hands after handling and storing your grocery items.
How can I prevent foodborne diseases?
- Keep your cooking environment clean. All equipment and surfaces used to prepare and serve food should be washed, sanitized and appropriately disinfected.
- Separate raw and cooked foods.
- Cook foods thoroughly.
- Refrigerate and store foods at safe temperatures.
- Use safe, potable water and raw materials.
How can food businesses prevent the spread of COVID-19?
- Ensure staff are trained in COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
- Institute policies and procedures for staff with respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms to call in sick and stay at home.
- Maintain social distancing of 6 feet at establishments.
- Employees and customers should wear appropriate masks.
- There should be adequate handwashing stations with soap, clean potable water and disposable hand towels for hand drying.
- There should be hand sanitizer available to customers upon entering if soap and water are not readily available.
- Clean and sanitize surfaces such as table- tops, seat, counters and door handles regularly throughout the day, with appropriate and recommended disinfectants.
- Seat persons arriving together in clusters.
- Implement pre-ordering and curb-side pickup.
- Maintain good hygiene practices (GHP).
At CARPHA we continue to work with Member States’ Ministries of Health and Agriculture, community- based organizations and civil society, to address poor diet planning and nutrition. These have been significant drivers of overweight and obesity in our Region. Currently, one-third of adults in the Caribbean are overweight and obese.
CARPHA urges its Member States to create enabling environments by committing to and investing in sustainable farming and agriculture, developing innovative COVID-19 resilient farming practices and global markets and strengthening capacities and enhancing opportunities for small farmers and women in agriculture.
Together, we can achieve a sustainable, safe, and secure future for farming and agriculture for our Region.