Chief Tree to have long term health impact
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
by GIS

A burgeoning initiative is hoping to have a long term impact on health and the economy, by targeting the youngest members of the population.

The Chief Tree initiative aims fundamentally to promote healthy eating, but Chief Tree Creator Petra Auguste, said the brand, when fully developed, will have far reaching benefits.

“The impact of Chief Tree can be so wide reaching in terms of the linkages that we can build with the farmers,” she said. “For example, if we have 300 children or 400 preschoolers wanting to eat more bananas, it means the farmers would have to meet that demand. So we will be impacting the farmers, and as a result, the health bill because our children will be less likely to develop non-communicable diseases that are on the increase. And once we continue to promote healthy eating through Chief Tree, we can have a whole generation of children who, by the time they’re in Grade 4, have inculcated healthy eating habits, which can in turn have a long term impact on our food import and export bill, and health.”

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is providing support for the initiative.

National Specialist for IICA Saint Lucia, Brent Theophile, said Chief Tree has proven to be an important tool.

“In all of our Food and Nutrition security policies in the Caribbean, there is one central focus and that focus is on the matter of utilization,” he said. “Utilization, together with availability and accessibility produces the stability that all of our food and nutrition security systems want. Chief Tree directly influences that food and nutrition utilization pillar by encouraging the adoption of healthy eating practices and behavior by children.”

He added that there is an important link between agricultural development and human development.

“Our single greatest resource is our people. So if we have an unhealthy workforce growing up, that directly impacts our economic wellbeing. And then we have to factor in the high cost of poor health. Persons don’t understand that health is very costly. We have increasing incidences of chronic non communicable diseases, and at a very early age we have children developing Type Two diabetes. We need to do something. And this is one tool that can help us make a meaningful impact.”

Chief Tree’s objective is to collaborate with local agro producers to keep the initiative growing.

“In order to get the results that we want, we have to keep the children stimulated and motivated,” Ms. Auguste said. “So the idea is to find as many partners and collaborators who can provide us with foodstuffs that we can brand with the Chief Tree brand, so that a child at the supermarket with his or her mother would see a Chief Tree product and recognize it as a healthy food.”

The Chief Tree project started six years ago and has undergone several studies with IICA which found that the Chief Tree character has positively influenced healthy eating habits in young children.

Chief Tree books are available at Valmont.