Our Readers' Opinions
January 13, 2006
New Year, New Order: Agriculture

EDITOR: Forever and a day poverty and hunger over and above everything else are the two components which shrink a human-being to the lowest common factor. Heartfelt sympathy and understanding should always go out to Vincentians who due to no fault of their own are victims, and they should be given the nation’s maximum support.

In our present situation the question of hunger and poverty can no longer be ducked. The choice is ours to make. The process of giving will never be completed until someone takes. The giver will forever be duped into believing that by giving liberally a humanitarian act is accomplished. {{more}}The history of countries in the Caribbean where hunger and poverty are widespread dispels that philosophy.

The government and private sector need to reorder their priorities as they relate to poverty and the alleviation of it. The solution simply calls for putting all those idle hands and minds to the plough first mentally, then physically. This piece of earth on which we all stand is a goldmine as far as food production is concerned.

For whatever reason our focus has always been totally on earning foreign exchange, almost exclusively by producing backbreaking crops for export. This saps both the physical and mental energies of our farmers. In doing that, we have let the floodgates wide open for massive importation of vegetables that are ready for harvest in a fraction of the time and with much less exertion, not only that, two or three of those crops could be had annually as opposed to one and possible two in the same time.

Tom Adams, a former Prime Minister of Barbados had it right when he said in St. Vincent (a long time ago) that if we ever got serious, we St. Vincent and the Grenadines could feed the entire Caribbean. Indeed, feeding our country and the entire Caribbean with vegetables, fresh and processed is the area in which our hearts, hands and souls should be concentrated, big time.

We would never be able to produce the quantity of vegetables as the United States does, in fact, we don’t even need to try, but we certainly can produce far superior qualities, added to this, as we produce these commodities for wholesale much of what has been salvaged could be used as feed for livestock, including rabbits.

What all of this does is reduce both the wholesale and retail costs. In the final analysis, very clearly, foreign exchange is not earned only by exporting but equally too by not having to import.

Stanley Quammie