a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Role for 4H to help control NCDs

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First Published Barbados Nation 14th July 2010

THE 4H MOVEMENT, known for grooming very young farmers, can play a major part in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDS).

Sub regional coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Florita Kentish, made this point yesterday at the opening of a week-long training programme for more than 25 4H leaders.

Kentish said that the movement could “play a significant role in the national strategy against NCDs by involving the youth in activities with the potential to increase the acceptance of fresh fruit and vegetables and the use of locally produced indigenous foodstuffs”.

The platform for the 4H Movement’s thrust was created by “the increased incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases and child obesity, combined with high food prices in the countries of the Caribbean”, Kentish told the meeting at Ellerslie Secondary School in Black Rock, St Michael.

She noted that poor nutrition was a major cause of overweight and obesity - a form of malnutrition that increased susceptibility to chronic disease.

“In the Caribbean, the increase of obesity in young people is one of the most disturbing trends," she said.

The workshop, whose participants include some very young children, focuses on using the school garden as a teaching tool. Issues to be tackled include healthy eating and chronic diseases; nutrition and food security in the garden; nutrition and entrepreneurship; and science and life skills in the garden.

Resource personnel include two facilitators from Michigan State University Extension. Food nutritional consultant Zonia Phillips said it would be gardening with a difference.

“We are getting away from the ploughing and digging and we are promoting a raised bed, which is easier maintenance,” she explained.

“Also we would like to see a policy of only organic gardening within schools so that there is no spraying or use of pesticides and chemicals in school gardens or around school areas.

“We will be promoting more composting and mulching so that there will not be any need to use any kind of pesticides or fertilisers. The garden will be self-fertilising.” (TY)

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