In observance of World Food Day, which is being observed today under the theme ‘Food Prices: From Crisis to Stability’, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held a National Schools Home Economics Competition at St Joseph High School on Friday.
The ministry, in a press release, said the competition was run off in two categories: Student’s Lunch and Businessman’s Lunch where students had to make use of locally produced foods to prepare innovative and nutritious low cost meals.
The competition attracted the participation of 15 schools throughout the country and saw Region Three dominating with West Demerara Secondary copping first place in the Students’ Lunch category and La Venture Secondary in the Businessman’s Lunch category.
The ministry in its release also added that Anna Regina Secondary of Region Two came second and Brickdam Secondary third in the Student’s lunch category and in the Businessman’s lunch category Harmony Secondary of Region Ten and Tucville Secondary, Georgetown copped second and third respectively.
According to the release, Education Minister, Shaik Baksh, in his address to the gathering, said that a healthy and balanced meal contributes significantly to the concentration of the child in the learning process, while adding that the government spends some $1.5 billion on school feeding programmes with more than 50,000 pupils benefiting countrywide.
He added that his ministry has intensified its focus on agriculture in schools with over 141 schools being part of the national gardening programme and more students sitting the subject at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).
Baksh appealed to Guyanese to start consuming fresh local produce noting that processed food is a prime contributor to obesity and there are too many obese people in the country. He also stated that apart from consuming local produce a balanced diet and exercise have been recommended to help obese persons who have attained “whale status”.
FAO Country Representative Dr Lystra Fletcher Paul pointed out that unfair trade policies and volatile food prices hurt agriculture and poor farmers by generating negative spin effects. The FAO representative stressed that a more coordinated approach is needed to avoid poor nations becoming victims of unfair trade policies.
She added that she must also commend Guyana on its investment in agricultural research and the development and assistance to poor farmers to take the country’s agricultural sector to the next level while ensuring the poor earns a profitable livelihood, the release stated.