|Year of publication:
||FAO- Gov. of Suriname
||This document presents the elements of a Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) policy framework for Suriname as a roadmap for the attainment of the status of a Food Secure Nation, considered to be a major developmental goal of the Government of Suriname.
The National FNS Policy for Suriname provides a framework for coordinating and mainstreaming all activities of government, the private sector and civil society, related to the availability, access, food utilization/nutritional adequacy and stability of food within the country.
The Food and Nutrition Security Policy is presented against the background of the country:
- an estimated total population of 530,900; with the vast majority living in the capital (Paramaribo) or on the coast
- a middle-income country rich in natural extractive resources (gold, oil and bauxite) with relatively strong institutions
- economy doing well despite the global economic downturn
- growth mainly driven by extractive industries.
- percentage contribution of agriculture to GDP fluctuated between 7% and 11% over the period 2000-2013. The services or tertiary sector which includes the tourism industry contributed an average of between 44-64% to GDP over the period 2009-2013.
- In terms of HDI positioning the country ranked at 100 out of 187 countries.
Despite the economic progress made by Suriname, the country is still faced with challenges to all four pillars of Food and Nutrition Security:
1. Food availability,
2. Food access,
3. Food utilization and
4. Food stability.
In fact, the country's level of poverty and inequality though improving, remain worrisome. In terms of availability, there is no shortage of energy, based on the nation's calorie intake per person. In fact, the energy intake of Suriname has risen steadily over the past 3 decades. However, there is a high level of import dependence for sources of food.
The level of obesity in the country is fairly high and is estimated at 11.3 percent and 25.4 percent for males and females, respectively. Unhealthy eating habits are leading to increased rates of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) and are impacting negatively on the health and wellbeing of our citizens. This trend is also reflected in pre-primary and secondary school-aged children.
In general, there is no problem with the physical access to food, except in the hinterland communities. However, the Economic access to food poses a challenge to the poor and vulnerable in society. Approximately 31.0 percent of the is considered poor. To assist the poor, there are a growing number of transfer programs which assist vulnerable groups by providing jobs, food, business development training, home improvement, disaster relief, heath care and direct cash payments. The sustainability and efficiency of these programs are being questioned, particularly in identifying and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.
Finally, while our FNS position appears to be worsening with increasing rates of CNCDs, the stability of FNS has not been given much attention by the key stakeholders collectively. Notwithstanding the pockets of research that exist and the increasing social support programs, increased stability will be more effectively achieved by making workers more employable, or by increasing their productivity, as well as by using better technologies in production processes from primary production to processing and all along the value chain.
There are a host of Ministries and State Agencies that can contribute to the development of food and nutrition security, including agencies in health, education, trade, public utilities, social development, housing and food production. Most of the Ministries have well-articulated sectorial policies. Some Ministries however, have only draft policies, which are still to be finalized. All sectors are supposed to be working within the macro-economic National Development Plan (2012-2016) and the Country Partnership Strategy (2015-2018), in which poverty eradication and social justice are identified as key pillars. While food and nutrition security is featured the policies and programs of several ministries, there has not been sufficient collaboration among those key Ministries to ensure that the goal of adequate nutrition will be met through the various plans being undertaken, or to reduce the inherent conflicts that sometimes arise among ministries. These relationships must be strengthened for better FNS.
All the challenges cannot be removed at one time; however, solutions need to be prioritized to make better use of limited human and other resources. Focus must be given to increasing productivity of systems, increasing the demand for local food via linkages with other sectors, increasing education at all school levels in FNS and improving public-private-civil society partnerships. There is also the need to provide the legislative framework needed to reduce the availability and/or access to foods that have lower levels of nutrition, primarily for children. Together, all stakeholders can work together for a food secure and healthier nation.
The Government of Suriname is cognisant of the close interrelationship between food, nutrition and health in national development. The Government recognizes that the nutritional status of a population is the end product of many interrelated and complex factors reflecting the social and economic conditions of the country. A food secure nation has the capacity for greater productivity and is more inclined to socially acceptable behaviour. The attainment of the status of a Food Secure Nation is therefore considered to be a major developmental goal of the Government of Suriname.
The Development of a National Food and Nutrition Security Policy was based on a process that was researched and is therefore evidence-driven, participatory and consultative and which sought to garner support from all relevant areas of society.
One of the initial steps in the process was the conduct of an assessment of the existing Food and Nutrition Security situation. This Situational Analysis combined several qualitative and quantitative research methods and processes.
Research methods included the collection and analysis of secondary data. This involved the review of relevant statistical data and information on population census, poverty studies, surveys of living conditions, surveys of agricultural production, data on nutrition and consumption patterns, and other information taken from pertinent Sector Studies. Research Tools included internet and desk research.
Sector Studies provided in-depth reviews and analysis of selected priority sectors and provided the foundation for making recommendations for policy interventions based on identified gaps.
In particular, the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan is contextualized within the framework of the:
- National Development Plan 2012-2016 (OP) of the Government of Suriname called -Suriname in Transformation';
- National Strategic Plan of Suriname 2009-2013;
- The Poverty Eradication Program Plan of Suriname, 2001;
- The United Nations Development Assistance Framework 2012-2016;
- The National Agricultural Innovation Strategy of the Republic of Suriname, 2013
- Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), 2015-2018;
- CARICOM Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy (2010); and
- CARICOM- Strategic Plan of Action for NCDs (2011-2015).
Research also encompassed primary sources of data collected from key informant interviews; stakeholder consultations including farmers' organizations, community and interest groups, private sector businesses, government ministries and departments.
An essential step in the Policy formulation process was the convening of The National Stakeholder Consultation. It served to further ensure that the process was participatory and inclusive. This forum afforded stakeholders the opportunity of making major contributions in assessing the situation, identifying the gaps, and recommending appropriate policy objectives, instruments and actions.
The Stakeholders Consultation also presented the opportunity for key stakeholders to examine and discuss various options that would provide the appropriate framework for the coordination, implementation and monitoring of the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan for Suriname.
Several Policy Goals and associated Policy Objectives for addressing the food and nutrition security challenges of Suriname have been identified they are presented below in relation to the four pillars of food and nutrition security - availability, access, utilization and stability.
1. Food Availability
Policy Goal: The Government of Suriname will promote the sustainable production of safe, affordable, nutritious and high quality local foods through the development of competitive and diverse domestic food production systems and sustainable level of food imports built primarily upon mutually collaborative links with CARICOM countries.
The Government of Suriname will ensure the achievement of the defined Food Availability Policy Goal through the pursuit and attainment of the Policy Objectives to include:
Enacting a Food Security Law to ensure domestic production of a minimum threshold of a selected basket of foods based on the production capacity and capability the resource endowment as well as national comparative advantage and to ensure the availability of safe and healthy food to consumers;
Increasing investment (public and private sector) in the development of natural resources pertinent to the advancement of sustainable agricultural and food production systems;
Facilitating Human Resource Development related to agriculture, in order to ensure that farmers, extension workers and technicians are fully equipped to contribute to increased production and productivity within the sector. Particular emphasis will be given to facilitating the involvement of women, youth and the inhabitants of the interior;
Supporting enhanced local agricultural production and productivity based on the utilization of impact-oriented research, innovation and technology development and transfer, thereby promoting the sustainable livelihoods for farmers;
Promoting cost efficient value-added production from locally produced and imported semi-processed foods and livestock products, and creating an enabling environment for the production and marketing of these products;
Promoting development within the fisheries industry by the introduction of measures for the effective management, conservation, sustainable utilization and development of fisheries resources; and
Strengthening the institutional coordination and collaborative environment at the national, regional and international levels, with the aim of creating the appropriate institutional platforms and mechanisms required for sustainable production and marketing of Agro-food products.
2. Food Accessibility
Policy Goal: The Government of Suriname will facilitate the sustainable development of Human and Social Capital thereby increasing greater accessibility to safe and nutritious food, especially among vulnerable groups.
The Government of Suriname will ensure the achievement of the defined Food Access Policy Goal through the pursuit and attainment of the following Policy Objectives:
Continuing to address the challenges of Poverty and Unemployment through the provision of sustainable and stable employment generating opportunities and the establishment of appropriate safety nets for the most vulnerable;
Ensuring improved access to basic services by Vulnerable Groups;
Focusing on the control of food price inflation for key items in the average consumer basket;
Facilitating a better understanding of the poverty and food insecurity through the implementation of improved mechanisms for measuring and monitoring food insecurity and poverty indicators;
improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the food marketing and distribution system; and
Ensuring that persons made vulnerable and food-insecure during emergencies caused by natural hazards, economic shocks and food shortages, have access to food.
3. Food Utilization
Policy Goal: The Government of Suriname will improve the nutritional status and well-being of the population through the promotion and consumption of safe, affordable, nutritious quality Caribbean food commodities/products.
The Government of Suriname will ensure the achievement of the defined Food Utilization Policy Goal through the pursuit and attainment of the following Policy Objectives, to include:
Increasing consumer awareness of nutritional standards and food safety;
advocating for consumer protection through improved food quality and safety;
Promoting and supporting appropriate diets, physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviours to reduce the levels of obesity, non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs);
Improving the nutritional status of infants and young children;
Improving Food and Nutrition practices in schools by appropriate education and improvement to the School Nutrition Program;
Promoting early health care, including nutrition counselling service for PLHIV;
Promoting Nutrition and other Preventative Measures to Control Micronutrient Deficiencies.
4. Food Stability
Policy Goal: The Government of Suriname will strengthen emergency preparedness mechanisms in order to ensure the resilience of the nation to natural disasters and socio-economic shocks, including those associated with climate change.
The Government of Suriname will ensure the achievement of the defined Food Stability Policy Goal through:
Supporting the adaptation and mitigation strategies as a means of enhancing the stability of food and nutrition security over time among the vulnerable groups as a result of financial and economic shocks;
Supporting the adaptation and mitigation strategies that, over time, enhance stability in domestic food supplies and improve household access from threats of natural disasters and climate change thus enhancing food and nutrition security for the population; and
Supporting the implementation of mitigation strategies that will facilitate the development of production systems and practices that are resilient to the impact of Climate Change, with particular focus on the Agricultural sector.
It is proposed that coordination of the implementation of the FNS Policy be placed under the purview of a multi-sector inter-ministerial committee consisting of the relevant agencies, civil society and the private sector. The transformation of this body into a National Food and Nutrition Security Council/Commission or otherwise, will depend on the evolution of the national food and nutrition security situation and fiscal considerations.
The overall objective of the Food and Nutrition Implementation Framework is to promote the implementation of activities designed to improve the food and nutrition status of every segment of the population. The mandate of the FNS Council should therefore include the following:
Creating awareness on the vital need for food and nutrition planning at the highest level of government;
Promoting the full diagnosis of the food and nutrition status of the population and the maintenance of adequate food and nutrition surveillance;
Promoting the development of food and nutrition policies and programs as part of the overall development plan;
Stimulating and coordinating the implementation of food and nutrition programs and evaluating their impact;
Having access to all necessary information regarding the planning, implementation and progress in projects which are relevant to food and nutrition;
Collecting, analyzing and disseminating information required for effective decision- making in food and nutrition planning;
Co-opting resource personnel and mobilizing financial resources for the advancement of food and nutrition;
Examining and making recommendations on programs, and on budgetary proposals and allocations in respect of the National Food and Nutrition Policy;
Developing National Food and Nutrition Plans and acting as the advisory body to Cabinet on the interface of food and nutrition security issues;
Promoting coordination of the programs of various agencies influencing the food and nutrition status of the country;
Monitoring the implementation of projects and programs and redefining policies and strategies; and
Identifying research and training needs and making recommendations for satisfying such needs.