Greene blasts doom and gloom pundits
September 28, 2007

Greene blasts doom and gloom pundits

Pundits who have been foretelling doom and gloom in the agricultural sector have received a tongue lashing from coordinator of the Eastern Caribbean Trading Agriculture and Development organization (ECTAD) Jethro Greene.{{more}}

Greene said that these pundits have been promoting the “demise” of agriculture and have predicted that it will be replaced by Tourism.

The ECTAD coordinator emphasized that for Tourism to survive, a country must be able to feed its people, and sarcastically remarked that when the Tourism industry was developed, “super computers” would be used to produce food to feed the population.

He called on policy makers to listen more to the experts, since Agriculture was linked to almost every other sector and emphasised that it was crucial to get at least the basic food security for the citizens of this nation.

Green said that it had been said that the youth were not interested in Agriculture, but the young men living and cultivating cannabis “told a different story.” The ECTAD coordinator announced that several projects would be linked with the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, the private sector and rural farmers to strengthen the local food industry.

Also passionately pledging his department’s commitment to Agricultural Development was Chief Agricultural Officer (ag) Rueben Robertson, who said that he looked forward to the day when this country would once again produce crops to not only feed itself but the region.

He said that the local agriculture sector suffered neglect in previous years, which created a ripple effect in the economy and health of the people whom he said now ate too much processed fast foods. He, however, praised the nutrition unit for being in the forefront of advocating healthy diets, but stressed that much more needed to be done.

The Chief Agricultural Officer (ag) declared that every Vincentian not only had the right to food, but to the right type of food, and said that government was making efforts to ensure that this occurred, by establishing the National Food and Nutrition Council, among other things.

Robertson revealed that the global agricultural sector was facing, as he described it, “turbulent times”, with the past 20 years being the worse in cereal production, because of the adverse weather patterns.

He said that because of poor yield and scarcity in production, farmers have increased their prices over the past 10 years, which has trickled down to the economy of the average Vincentian.

Explaining, he noted that cereals are used to feed farm animals, which are then sold to consumers who have to pay the high costs, as well as the bakers who use flour from wheat to make bread to sell to the populace.

Robertson revealed that locally, cereal imports increased from $17 million in 2002 to $27 million, and that in 2006 some $33 million was spent on imported meat products. He said although this country had idle lands that can be cultivated, shockingly, $14 million was used to import vegetables.

He also pointed out that if farmers cut out the “middle men” who purchased their crops for little and sold them to the public at exceedingly high costs, local food would be less expensive and people could eat healthier.

The theme for the ECTAD workshop, which was sponsored by Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, CTA, ACP-EU was “Linking Agriculture to Health and Nutrition.”