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Shaw says agri sector can produce more for school-feeding programme

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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MINISTER of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says the agricultural sector can produce and make more local foods available to support students through the school-feeding programme.

“There are several agricultural products in which we have already achieved 100 per cent market share that could be used in the school-feeding programme, such as carrots, callaloo, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, breadfruit, cassava, yam, and green banana, just to name a few,” Shaw said.

He was speaking in the House of Representatives on October 9, as he made his contribution to a motion brought by Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Rev Ronald Thwaites, regarding the increased use of nutritious local produce under the school-feeding programme.

Shaw noted that if the school-feeding programme entered into contracts with specific farmers, “we could increase agricultural production, employment and farm income in rural areas”.

The minister emphasised that a very important food that must be incorporated into the school-feeding programme is sweet potato.

“It is a very healthy food for us to feed to our children while they are in school. Information passed to me indicates that sweet potato contains over 15 health benefits, including the prevention of vitamin A deficiency; improvement in vision; and the management of weight and diabetes,” Shaw said.

He added that sweet potato can also help in the fight against certain cancers; assist to regulate blood pressure; prevent ulcers and improve memory.

Shaw said that pumpkin purée is another important food that can be incorporated into the school-feeding programme.

He noted that pumpkin purée contains 10 per cent of the daily requirement for potassium, which is needed to support a healthy digestive system. A cup of pumpkin purée, he added, supplies 3.4 grammes of iron, a mineral that supports the immune system.

The minister pointed out that these crops are easy to utilise in the meal plans for children.

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