Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Apr 01, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Guyana participated in the second stage of the School Feeding Course for the Caribbean in the Dominican Republic. The regional school feeding project of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation carried out an international technical mission in the Dominican Republic with the participation of 10 countries, from March 13 to 17.
Theoretical contents were presented and field activities were developed on the different levels of implementation of the school feeding policy of that country.
The mission was made up of managers and technicians from school feeding programmes from the Ministries of Education, Agriculture and Health of Belize, Brazil, Bahamas, Chile, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. On the occasion, the second stage of a course on school feeding for participants from the Caribbean was also developed.
This action was developed within the framework of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation Programme, executed through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ABC/MRE), the National Fund for Educational Development of the Ministry of Education (FNDE /MEC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), through the project Consolidation of School Feeding Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cooperation: transforming lives
The president of FNDE, Fernanda Pacobahyba, participated in the mission and assured Brazil’s commitment to school feeding in the region: “The power of all this cooperation work to transform people’s lives was very clear,” she commented.
“We have legitimately heard from the biggest players, the boys and girls, how much they love school feeding and the importance of good nutrition for them.”
Pacobahyba also highlighted the role of the Sustainable School Feeding Network (RAES), created by the Government of Brazil to deepen the dialogue and exchange of knowledge on school feeding in Latin America and the Caribbean.
ABC/MRE project analyst Paola Barbieri added that school feeding is one of the agency’s priorities. “We believe that school feeding guarantees the Human Right to Adequate Food. It is very important for the Brazilian government to share the good practices of this programme that we have for more than 67 years”.
Rodrigo Castañeda, FAO Representative in the Dominican Republic, thanked the support of the Brazilian cooperation and highlighted the work of different institutions and local communities in the implementation of the school feeding policy. “The school can be an articulator of rural development. Our commitment is that this becomes a public policy of the state, so that together we can strengthen school feeding in all our countries,” he said.
SFP in the Dominican Republic: almost 2 million students
The director of the National Institute for Student Welfare (INABIE) of the Dominican Republic, Victor Castro, stressed that school feeding is a state commitment. He detailed the construction process of the School Food Law and pointed out that this is “the most important social programme in the country”, with an impact on more than 712,000 Dominican families and benefiting 1.8 million students. He also added that the mission helped to exchange experiences so that local school feeding can be consolidated and strengthened.
Israel Ríos Castillo, FAO nutrition officer, pointed out that the organization’s cooperation with ABC/MRE and FNDE/MEC is one of the most important for FAO. “I ask you to embrace the commitment to this school feeding programme in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is our programme, it was created on this continent and we must defend and protect it”.
Visits in schools
During the week, the delegation visited two schools with adequate infrastructure for school feeding. “It is important that boys and girls eat at school, not only to feed themselves, but also to acquire good habits. To explain to them the importance of healthy nutrition, of eating vegetables and of eating balanced food,” underscored Clara Josefina Henríques, director of the Hora de Dios School in Santo Domingo. “The students have changed their habits a lot.”
The other school was the Mata Limón educational center, in Monte Plata, a Sustainable School part of the work of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation in school feeding in the region. For student Keyla Jasmil, who is part of a school feeding committee at her school, it is very important to learn about food and nutrition education and to spread the word:
“If someone in my family is not eating healthy, I can give them suggestions that can help to change. I have seen my friends much healthier, with more strength and energy”, she said. The school also has a garden where students learn about different subjects, such as science, English and math.
Dominican family farming, a key actor in the school feeding policy, was also a topic presented to the delegation. The group visited the Constanza region, where a smallholder farmers cooperative was formed, which benefits 52 families. Training on good practices, technical assistance, and support for access to public and private markets were promoted to establish the Villa Poppy Farmers Cooperative.
Local farmer Bernardo Díadía says that they have improved and perfected production techniques with the support of technical assistance. Strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, radicchios, chili peppers, onions, carrots, among others, are grown, which are consumed in the community and sold to other markets. “We started with courses, we created a cooperative, we began to sell without intermediaries to different supermarkets and companies. It is not easy, but we have shown that it can be done”. This cooperative is the first entity of this type in the country to obtain the State Provider Registry.
For the director of the Supérate family farming programme, Arturo Bisonó, rural policy must take into account all the variabilities of realities. “Our task is to bring farmers in the most sustainable and fastest way so that they can sell directly, ensuring quality, safety and consistency to the market that wants these products,” said Bisonó.
The second stage of the School Feeding Programmes and Food and Nutrition Education course was also carried out at the mission, with participants from Belize, the Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad. and Tobago. The activity generated a space for theoretical and experiential learning, promoting a meeting between the Caribbean countries that are working on improving the quality of their school feeding programmes.
During the course, there was the conclusion stage of the ‘Joint Strategy for Strengthening Sustainable School Feeding Programs (PAES) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) – safe environment during and post pandemic’, a short course on food handling and food safety topics. The strategy was promoted by the Brazil-FAO and Brazil-UNDP Trilateral South-South Cooperation programmes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia.
The strategy was divided into two phases. The first dealt with the management and provision of approximately 600 kits in 11 LAC countries and the second was this training of national technicians in safety, hygiene, infrastructure, handling and quality of food preparation.
“We were able to see the impact of school feeding in the field, in dialogue with students and family farmers,” said Mahendra Phaghwah, breakfast programme’s coordinator of Guyana’s Ministry of Education. “School feeding does not discriminate and it is not a vulnerability programme, school feeding is for all”.
The coordinator of the school feeding project of the Brazil-FAO International Cooperation, Najla Veloso, assessed that the mission promoted a space for dialogue and exchange among the Caribbean countries. “It was an occasion to call on sister countries to think together how we can build a better continent and a better world, where all students eat, learn and improve their health conditions, moving the regional food chain with family farming. It was possible to understand that it is possible to do this better and better, how we do it in your countries, in Brazil and how the Dominican Republic is doing”.
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