Saturday, November 20, 2010

Article from Bhutan Observer (17 Oct 2010)

I found this article online, and thought it was interesting following the blog I just posted about food in Bhutan.  I have been spending a lot of time with a friend's little 2-year old son, and he eats very erratically.  His diet from what I can see is made up of candy and Coca-Cola, fried food, and chillies.  The food culture is changing slowly in Bhutan though it is still mainly within the upper and middle classes.  Just one of many aspects of a country in transition into the modern world.


So that we eat enough and healthy

BHUTAN OBSERVER. 17 October 2010.

The agriculture ministry is working on a food and nutrition security policy. It is a crucial policy that will have a far-reaching impact on the health of the population as well as the country. The policy is timely because we are now increasingly talking about poverty and poverty alleviation measures which comprise a host of economic activities.
Food and nutrition policy is particularly crucial for us because for a country vulnerable to untoward geo-economic situations, food and nutrition security also means national security.
Today, the concept of food and nutrition security has taken on many important dimensions. Availability of enough grains alone does not make a community food and nutrition secure. The people should be in a position to access the available food and utilise it in a nutritious and hygienic manner. After all these conditions are achieved, we must make sure that they are stable for all time to come. Then, we can claim that we are food and nutrition secure.
We are far from being food and nutrition secure. The production of food is beset with many formidable challenges. Productive agriculture land is limited and the yield from it is often compromised by difficult terrain, lack of irrigation water, destruction of crops by wild animals, and farm labour shortage, among others. These challenges are now compounded by laying the farmland fallow and development fast gobbling up productive land.
Access to food is often limited by difficult terrain, lack of roads, and market facilities. Utilisation of available food is also a big challenge for Bhutan. Our popular food culture is largely unhealthy. For instance, the average Bhutanese family’s diet largely comprises only rice with overcooked vegetables, often oily and spicy.
The government has already initiated projects like irrigation water schemes, farm mechanisation, and farmers’ cooperatives to meet these challenges. But it will take time, resources, and awareness.
Given widespread seasonal poverty and food shortages, particularly across rural backwaters, it is important that a robust food reserve strategy be put in place at the national, regional, and community level. In this context, we could learn from our forefather’s granary system during the troubled medieval time.
Because the concept of food and nutrition security is multi-dimensional, achieving it will need multi-sector efforts. Almost all the agencies, including the health and education ministries, must make specific effort towards achieving certain aspects of food and nutrition security. The policy makes many such issues clear.
Food and nutrition security policy is an idea whose time has come. Let’s take it forward.