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Caribbean region’s survival threatened by its inability to feed itself

Caribbean region’s  survival threatened by its inability to feed itself


The Caribbean is failing to see the increasing disconnect between food production and “the basic question of our survival as a civilisation,” a journalist has told his regional colleagues.{{more}}

Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) told the opening of a media science workshop in Antigua last Friday, he had no doubt that “the region continues to be in crisis — all kinds of crisis.

“Factors that militate against the fact that if we are not in a position to feed ourselves, the whole cycle of dependence that we fought so very long to free ourselves from will continue to exists in a manner that will continue to undermine us as a Caribbean civilisation,” he said at the two-day workshop, ahead of Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA).

“It is a very serious question and it is very relevant to the work of media people and organisations such as the ACM, which is very much concerned about freedom of expression and operating in societies where freedom is the norm and not the exception,” Gibbings said.

He mentioned among the “factors that militate against moving us in that positive direction right now”, the US$4 billion (EC$10.8 billion) in food, the region imports annually.

“The performance of our national economies continues to be poor, with very few exceptions,” Gibbings said.

He said Guyana has experienced positive economic growth over the last three to four years and the Trinidadian economy is expected to grow 1.2 per cent this year, after four to five years of decline.

“… the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) sub-region is in negative growth situation for many years now, and must, I believe, very frontedly accept the fact that it is a crisis situation.”

Among the other factors militating against forward movement and “becoming sovereign in the way that we intended, in some cases 50 years ago”, Gibbings mentioned growing violence and crime, social displacement, poverty, a lack of social justice “and in too many of our countries, the threat that our state can be captured by interest that has not hesitation about operating in a manner that continues to undermine us.

“At the very centre of all of this is food and our ability to feed ourselves,” Gibbings said.

He said these issues have “everything” to do with media practitioners, noting TIME magazine’s tribute to Barry Commoner, hailed the founder of the modern environmental movement, who died September 30.

“His adage is that everything is connected,” Gibbing said.

“There is nothing that is unconnected, particularly in our smaller society. So, there is no distinction, in my view, between a journalist covering a food story and a journalist covering a story that has to do with almost every area of human interest in our countries,” he added.

CWA brings together key stakeholders in the agriculture and rural development sector, including policy makers, researchers, academicians, farmers, the private sector, youth and media to discuss current issues and recommend policy actions.

CWA began on Sunday and ends tomorrow.