Twenty-seven percent of the population in Antigua and Barbuda is malnourished according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
One Democratic National Alliance (DNA) spokesman, Bruce Goodwin, said that this problem lies directly at the feet of the ruling administration and its predecessors.
“None of the administrations have been able to tackle the problem of developing effective policy and implementing effective policy (in dealing with food security),” Goodwin said.
The spokesman went on to take swipes at what he called the “dying” school meals program as he said, “look at what’s happened to the school meals program. From nutritious hot meals, they’ve gone now to hot dogs and hamburgers… junk food!”
The pervasive malnutrition situation, “also leads to an increase in antisocial and immoral behavior in society in general on the part of persons who are so frustrated by the fall of their living standards that they get into other endeavors that are not so wholesome,” implored the DNA spokesman.
Goodwin also points out Antigua and Barbuda’s huge dependency on imported foods citing that of CARICOM’s $6 billion importation bill, Antigua and Barbuda imports $500 million (8.3 percent est.).
“We are going to bring about a significant reduction in the cost of food by providing an enabling environment for a massive increase in local food production to substitute for the expensive imports of food.”
“It’s not because you see people fat that they are well-nourished, because a lot of malnourished people are obese and Antigua has a big obesity problem.”
According to the FAO, in Antigua and Barbuda obesity affects 22.8 percent of men and 38.7 percent of women.
“And it’s because they are malnourished, some of them, that they have become obese because they are eating the wrong food. And they are eating the wrong food because they cannot afford the right food. Food is too expensive,” Goodwin continued.
An enabling food security environment, the DNA hopes, will lead to the production of a vast quantity of food options at affordable prices. Also, they plan for a small business development policy that will encourage investment in food processing and packaging to lead to healthier food choices.