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No food cry-sis eh… wait…

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When ah was ah youth ah looked forward foh de Sunday lunch, that was de day when de main course was rice and some kind ah meat, either home grown chicken, mutton, beef or pork. Rice came from Guyana and it was ah delicacy, so it was like ah treat if in de middle ah de week yuh got rice as ah side dish, however de breadfruit, sweet-potato and other ground provisions uses to full-out de plate and literally pushed de couple spoons ah rice to de side ah de plate. Eating habits back den was different, but was de I-deal; during de week apart from corn-coo-coo or foon-gie, ah cassava-mush made from farine, both served wid fresh fish, de ground provisions literally ‘rained’ supreme and came in all form and fashion: soup, boileen, mashed wid gravey or salt butter; ah couldn’t stand it, gee me me rice! Lickle did I know dat ah was on to ah good ting back den.{{more}} Roast breadfruit foh de evening meal was ah regular but it couldn’t compete wid flour dat was high on de chart. Bread was reasonably cheap, de famous penny loaf ah bread was five loaves foh eight cents.

In those days Oh-beast, hype-attention and Die-or-be-tease never uses to show-up till yuh get ole and ready to dead; nowadays even babies born-in wid Sugar. Back den people ate every and any thing, and why not, it was all fresh fruits and vegetables, grown wid-out chemi-kills or pest-aside; fresh fish and meats, no Back’n’Neck; no mini vans, people did ah lot more walking and got exercise from dat, so we were not only ah well fed people but ah healthy lot. If only we had stuck to traditions all dis threat of ah pending World Food Cry-sis wouldn’t bother us. In fact “Food Cry-sis” was not in de Vincy vocabulary.

Now ah would love to believe de Prime Minister but ah can’t, when he says dat unlike other countries, we in SVG are not experiencing any Food Cry-sis, and he does not see any Food Cry-sis on de horizon foh SVG. Imaging all dem Carry-Come leaders and tech-knock-rats anticipating ah Food Cry-sis and preparing foh it, but not Gonsalves. Look at China and India, leading rice producers planning to stop exporting rice. Oil is now $123 ah barrel – an all time high. As long as de Oil price goes up, everything will increase, we will not have ah Food Cry-sis but ah Food Soon-ah-me! Gasoline going up again dis week; ah can’t racall de PM being at home when ever gas price goes up. One time he slighted Sir Louis saying how if he been hey, he would ah dance Texaco around before agreeing to ah raise.

One ah de PM’s problems is dat he traveling so much, it seems he ain’t know what’s happening on de ground. Ah would suggest he tek ah stroll thru town early on any Sat-dey morning, let him go outside de Supermarkets, ah know when he sees de wide range ah fresh ground provisions on de ground, food of all description and colours ah de Rainbow: yellow slices ah pumpkins; bright orange coloured carrots, green bananas and cucumbers, red peppers and tomatoes, purple egg plants, white cabbages etc, he will tell he-self “No Food Cry-sis in SVG! But let him pass back later in de day he will be shocked to see dat very lickle would have been sold. It is not dat shoppers ain’t want to buy local, but wid five grains ah sweet potatoes or eddoes foh $4.00, ah small yam foh $3.00, one lickle dasheen foh $2.00, ah small slice ah pumpkin foh $ 2.00, de average housewife wid ah family of four to five mouths to feed will find dat when she spend ah $20 on local foods, she has barely enough food foh two meals; and she ain’t buy fish or chicken yet. On de other hand, wid dat same $20 she could buy 5 lbs ah rice, 5 lbs ah flour, 5 lbs ah back’n’neck to feed de family foh ah week. Dat is why National Properties (Food City) after trying to help de Farmers wid ah local market, loss over two million dollars and had to close down de produce department. What happen to de cold storage boat dat Walters spoke about dat was to transport Farmers produce up north. Talk is cheap! Dis closure will send ah sad signal foh de poor Farmers, is more pressure. Dat Food City was created foh de wrong reasons, it was supposed to be part ah de plan to close down Greaves, Bonadie and Veira Supermarkets. Ole people say when yuh digging hole foh yuh NME, dig one foh yuh self too!

One of our major problem is dat we are too dependent on imported foods dat we don’t produce here. We don’t grow rice in SVG, neither do we produce wheat foh de local Flour Mill, every pound ah Back’n’Neck is imported. And sadly no Guv-ah-mint has ever seriously tried to address dis problem. But it is all written dey in dey Man-ah-fet-so, pages upon pages on Food security. Wid ah pending shortage ah Rice, we could ah plant we own Rice at Argyle and Buccament way dey is Rivers, ah feel certain dat our Tie-one-knees friends would ah been able to grow rice here in SVG. But dat is like dreaming, those lands gone to Tour-is-him and Airport. De first step to In-deep-and-dense and self sufficiency is foh ah nation to be able to adequately feed its people; and ah don’t mean import food, ley we grow what we eat or eat what we grow!

AH WUKING FOH ME PHD

From dis weekend ah going “Back to de Land”. Ah seeking help from Hudson John, one ah de few Agricultural Officers who foh years “walks de talks” in Agriculture. He has some lovely “green houses” at Argyle where he has no pipe borne water. Ah done buy ah Hoe from Shepherds Ltd, imagine ah had to pay 15% VAT on ah Hoe. And we talking bout incentive to Farmers and Agriculture, yet dey VAT-ah-lies-in de very tools de Farmers got to use. Anyhow come Sat-dey, ah going to range and fork-up de garden and wait till de rains start. Ah feel dat when de rain clouds see ah novice like me in de garden monkeying wid ah Hoe, dey will burst out in big laughter and de place will flood dis weekend. Lie-Za suggests dat ah farm scientifically, “yuh never know”, she says, “yuh might get an honorary Ph.D”, den she said: “ don’t get too carried away, when ah say PhD ah don’t mean ah Doctorate, ah talking bout ah PHD as in Plough Hard Dirt”!

And wid dat ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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