Round Table with Oscar
September 20, 2011
Hogwash!! – Part 2

As far as I know, these two friends have never had this conversation, but you never know if tomorrow Craigg Matthews will confide and say to Alona: “I don’t know what woulda happen home by me, if Comrade didn’t help me out.{{more}}

‘Yeah, wha he do give you now? Alona asked.

‘Is de light bill’, Craigg began. ‘Ah couldn’t see me way to pay dese last months, you know how it is, and de bill mount up to a big piece a money. Anyway when de CDC man dem come to cut off the light, ah call Comrade.”

“Wait dey”, Alona butt in, ‘you mean you wah Comrade pay your light bill fu you? Man, you ain’t got no shame?’

‘You shut yo mouth me fren, is what you think we put him dere for, is not to see bout we? Anyway’, Craigg said, ‘he tell me not to worry, he go fix it.’


It is good to have a kind comrade in office, who will fix the disconnection from CDC or Water Authority for you, but it is also a bad thing; it could even be the worst thing for you and the country. Let me tell you what I mean. When a person cannot meet all the bills he/she should pay, because the agency in charge of banana disease control (not the Association, but the Agrie Ministry) allows the crop to perish and people’s sales to disappear, it is not light bill to be fixed, it’s the disease to be controlled. A kind comrade makes us see the short term problem, the short term solution, while the real problem get worse and you know what the real problem is? The real problem is the government policy of neglect of agriculture and the crackdown on production activities and the policy of hogwash the citizens with “small fixes”.

I remember the addition of 1,200 names to the safety net payouts when the rigours of producing bananas for export became difficult for many farmers. That was kind, but you know what was missing, a diversification project within banana, like a support system (research, incentives and infrastructure) to expand the local market for ripe bananas.

If each Vincentian consumed 2 ripe bananas per week, that would keep 120 acres of banana under cultivation, with an annual output of 1,100 tons. The result would be felt in homes, in health, in light bills being paid and fewer phone calls on Comrade in office; but a government that devotes himself to make and implement sound agriculture policy is what we need.

I don’t want to overdo the argument, but let us remember that after the 2010 Tomas devastation of bananas, there was to be income support of farmers for 7 months leading up to recovery of full production. There were two payouts, one in November and another in May. Those payments look like the kindness of the Comrade, not like pledges which we can take to the bank, or to court. That is the thing with hogwash.

And when it comes to the new agricultural project – the cultivation of cocoa for export, we would like to expect and hold on to something serious and substantial. There is only one way for SVG to have a worthwhile cocoa sector that benefits farmers. We have to stop depending on the kindness of the Comrade to help us out. We have to step forward ourselves and meet the investors and their plans with our own proposals. This time, we can flush the hogwash clean out of the agriculture and rural transformation system. A famers’ conference in rural districts must start the ball rolling.

Next week is not to soon for us to meet at the first conference. Government hogwash cannot grow agriculture and pay bills and keep shame out of the community. A Farmers’ movement, with farmers’ commitment and unity is where we must start. The flushout must begin.