by Sheria Brathwaite
The FAO warns that healthy and nutritious foods in Latin America and the Caribbean cost more when compared to other parts of the world.
The high cost of living and income inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, are among the main factors seriously affecting the accessibility and affordability of healthy food in the region, says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
During a virtual Press Conference on Wednesday to launch the 2022 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean, the organization revealed that the region, when compared to other parts of the world, has the highest cost of healthy and nutritious food and there was a great need to improve the affordability and access to these foods as hunger and malnutrition were on the rise.
During his presentation, the FAO’s regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean Mario Lubetkin said the region was going through a “significant and unprecedented” situation with regard to food and security.
“The situation is not at all promising, the region has suffered from the impact of a series of crises that had an impact on malnutrition and hunger across the board.
“The income inequality in the region affected by COVID-19, climate change and a serious economic crisis have also added to this negative situation into something that is of great concern.
“In addition to all of this we have seen the constant raising of food prices further aggravated by the situation
in Ukraine and we have also seen rising fertilizer prices. We must not ignore the situation of addressing hunger in the region.
“We also know that there is significant income inequality in the region, we know that 56.5 million individuals in the region live in poverty,” he said.
Noting that the insecurity rate in the region had multiplied tremendously since 2015, Lubetkin said this was quite
a paradox because the region produces food for a large number of individuals.
“It’s a very challenging context. We have limited resources but a responsibility to come up with tangible, sustainable solutions to be more effective and efficient in regards to our public and private investments,” he noted.
Lubetkin added that obesity was another issue addressed in the document with the review also outlining “a wealth of recommendations” to move toward more affordable healthy diets to secure food and nutrition security in the region.
The FAO official said that statistics showed low income people spent more than half of their income on food and the poor would continue to be more impacted by increasing food prices, which would determine the quality and quantity
of their food.
“In our region, we have the highest cost of healthy diets when compared to other regions throughout the world. This places a significant burden on individuals. One in every five people do not have access to healthy diets. We understand that the individual’s nutrition and diet really depend on a series of factors that are assessed under this report.”
The regional FAO representative said that each country in Latin America and the Caribbean was different and that meant that policies and initiatives aimed at better access and affordability of healthy food had to be tailored to each country.