(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Officials within the Ministry of Agriculture have been asked to “carefully review” the data that is being provided to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The request came from Molwyn Joseph, health minister, who has questioned the accuracy of a report by FAO, which ranked Antigua and Barbuda second to Haiti in the prevalence of undernourishment within the population.
The minister, like many other residents, are in disbelief regarding the information and he has indicated that the government will be challenging the statistics that were presented to the FAO.
“There is something wrong with the information that we are feeding to the FAO. We do not believe the undernourishment figure is correct,” the minister said during a recent news conference.
“Back in 2012, the former government challenged the FAO on these figures. They felt as we do now, that there is no way that Antigua could have an undernourishment rate of 26.5 percent that was published recently or 31.5 percent that was published back in 2004, 2006.”
According to the report, titled, “Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in the Latin America and the Caribbean 2017,” the twin-island state, Grenada and Bolivia all had percentages of undernourishment that were above 20 percent.
Undernourishment was tagged at 27 percent of the population in Antigua and Barbuda.
According to Joseph, the figures presented in the report have remained the same since 2004.
He said between 2004 and 2006 the figure was 31.5 percent and between 2010 and 2012 the figure was 27.8 percent.
The figures, he said ranked at 21.7 percent between 2012 and 2014.
A similar comparison was given for the other years leading up to 2017.
While he queried the undernourishment figures, the minister said that he is very concerned about the issue of malnutrition.
“We have to speak to the families who are spending large sums of money to buy the wrong food for their children in particular. When you go to the schools, and you look at the schoolyards, you see the trays where children are buying the corn curls and other unhealthy snack. That is where our focus is in the Ministry of Health,” Joseph said.
The minister said he had asked officials within the Ministry of Agriculture to review the data.
Meantime, an official from the FAO has also made the call for Antigua and Barbuda to improve its data collection if international agencies are to get a more accurate picture of what is taking place in the country.
Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, the FAO Coordinator for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), issued the appeal yesterday during an OBSERVER AM interview.
She was responding to a question relating to the recently released FAO report.