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OP08 Understanding practices and challenges of (re-)localising food production and consumption in small Island developing states for better nutrition: a qualitative multi-site study
  1. C Guell1,
  2. C Brown2,
  3. V Iese3,
  4. O Navunicagi3,
  5. M Wairiu3,
  6. N Unwin1,4
  1. 1European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, UK
  2. 2George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, University of the West Indies, Bridgetown, Barbados
  3. 3Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
  4. 4MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


Background Populations in Small Island Developing States have a high burden of malnutrition, including some of the highest rates globally of obesity and related non-communicable diseases. Underlying this burden is a growing reliance on low nutritional quality food imports, and improving food sovereignty and health through the production and consumption of local nutritious foods is therefore an urgent goal by national governments and regional organisations. As part of a larger project to develop evaluative methods, we aimed to explore factors affecting local food production and consumption, and communities’ perceived impacts of local foods on health and socio-economic wellbeing in Fiji in the South Pacific and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean.

Methods In the two settings, we conducted in total 52 in-depth, semi-structured one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders involved in local food production, processing, trade and policy, as well as 28 focus groups with rural and urban, tenant and landowning communities of adult and young adult ages. Country teams and co-investigators jointly thematically analysed the transcripts using the software Dedoose. We placed emphasis on understanding commonalities and differences within and across contexts.

Results Across both settings in the Pacific and Caribbean, common concerns largely outweighed differences. Participants noted that while local food production was seen as essential to local nutrition policies for population health, government support was perceived to be limited, outdated (e.g. not recognising traditional agricultural methods) and funding declining rather than decreasing over the past decades. Local food producers saw themselves as marginalised against a backdrop of increasing preference for imported foods, yet also experienced an increasing interest and pride in local produce which potentially provides increased commercial opportunities. Narratives in the community focus groups contained corresponding tensions, highlighting the health and economic value of home-produced foods, yet observing increasing social and generational changes towards buying and consuming processed foods. Many participants in both settings suggested that greater resilience could be achieved through cooperation and self-reliance on home food production but experienced many challenges related to environmental change such as extreme weather, pollution by pesticides and plastics, and to social conflicts and pressures such as limited access to land for home growing.

Conclusion Local community food production initiatives in Small Island Development States can be supported by understanding and addressing these complex challenges faced along the food value chain as well as by understanding local food practices, values and systems and their place in global networks.

On behalf of the CFaH Team

Funding Funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund through the UK Medical Research Council; Grant No. MR/P025250/1.

  • Community food production
  • nutrition
  • Small Island Developing States

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