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Island’s food supply to be centre of public debate

The sustainability of the Island’s food supply is to be debated in a public forum next week.

The Sustainable Development Roundtable (SDRT) is inviting the public to a ‘Community Conversation’ called, Our Food Supply: How Sustainable Is It? on Thursday September 29 from 7pm until 9pm at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium at CedarBridge Academy.

It will provide a forum for the community to hear from local experts and discuss the factors that influence the purchasing, selection and pricing of food that is sent to Bermuda. It will also highlight our vulnerabilities and opportunities in maintaining our food supply.

Chairwoman of the SDRT, Ms Ianthia Simmons-Wade, said: “One of the major roles of the SDRT is to engage in public discussion which will educate and raise awareness on issues that affect our sustainability and this event intends to do just that. The SDRT has decided to focus on the topic of food supply in Bermuda because of the significant social, economic and environmental issues associated with this subject.”

Ms Simmons-Wade added: “Bermuda imports almost all of its food and this leaves us vulnerable to uncontrollable factors that can and do influence our food supply.”

The event will begin with welcoming remarks by Ms Simmons-Wade and some brief comments by the Minister of Environment, Planning and Infrastructure Strategy, Walter Roban.

Each of the presenters will then be introduced and advised by the Moderator to spend no more than 10 minutes making their contribution from their particular area of expertise.

The presenters include a well respected local farmer, a representative from a major importer/wholesaler an economist and an agronomiss. Following the presentations the audience will be invited to make comments or ask questions of any one of the presenters.

Minister Roban said: “Our community should understand the economics and logistics that Bermuda is faced with in regards to maintaining our food supply. An unstable food supply can lead to social challenges, hunger and poorer nutrition amongst vulnerable populations.

“Our unique (isolated) geographical location and relatively small population gives rise to challenges that our community must not take for granted. Healthy food is a basic necessity for all. Since we import more than 90 percent of our food supply we must make sure that our infrastructure and management of the importing process runs smoothly.”

He added: ‘Historically, natural disasters such as hurricanes and the disruption of cargo flow have impacted our food resources on island. A cross-section of the community and decision-makers must discuss our vulnerabilities so that we can prepare for them and mitigate potential negative impacts.

“Most recently, the downturn of the global economy, energy and labour cost increases and extreme temperatures have directly impacted food availability and pricing. Our relatively small population size and increasing demands for diverse foods from around the world influence our food supply chain. It is necessary that Bermuda becomes innovative and offer consumers an opportunity to converse, be aware of challenges and offer solutions for the country and individual households.”

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Published September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am (Updated September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am)

Island’s food supply to be centre of public debate

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