By Finau Fonua
The Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is urging Pacific Island countries to produce more locally grown, non-processed foods, instead of relying on unhealthy imported processed foods.
There is an increasing reliance on cheap imported goods in Pacific Island countries, the FAO stated In a presentation paper at the 32nd Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific held last week, Tuesday March 11.
According to the FAO, healthier locally produced goods are being priced-out of the market. A food import dependent economy is not good for the Pacific countries as it reduces food security and puts local producers out of work. It also suggested that healthier locally grown foods would help tackle the problem of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
The FAO stated that, “Currently all Pacific island countries have either negative or highly negative food trade balances,”
“To restore a viable market for local food producers and reduce demand on imported products, a policy-driven, multi-sector approach is required.”
Some of the policies that the FAO suggested were an introduction of macro-economic policies to attract investment and reduce the competitiveness of imported foods, soft loans to allow producers to acquire productivity enhancing technologies, tax breaks for the agriculture sector, and a reduction of tariffs on imported farm machinery.
FAO stated “The revenue generated from additional tariffs and taxes on unhealthy imported food products could be invested in greater nutrition awareness campaigns and to improve the relative competiveness of nutritious local foods,”