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Let us ALL go steadily AGRARIAN

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Tue Sep 16, 2014

Editor: Reading the SEARCHLIGHT these days, one rightly wonders: IS THERE ANY TOPIC WE CAN ALL AGREE ON and which would also show the advantages that can benefit all SVG nationals? Or, those in the OECS, or CARICOM for that matter? I consider this to be a worthwhile national challenge. The following is my take in that direction.{{more}}

G. Cameron King, former chief Government Information officer and solid nemesis of the Marxist-Leninist doctrinaire ideologues and anti-intellectual statists, used to enthusiastically champion the then popular call for SVG to return “Back-to-the-Land” in a renewed agrarian-biased programme of State-wide popular community development. His Vini-Folk group was noticeable spearheads of this.

Do you have ‘Green Fingers’? How about all of us striving to develop ‘green fingers’. Each and every one of us, whether in village, town, City, or mountain lands, seeking to plant (more) vegetables, fruits, flowers, and non-narcotic herbs. Already, several of the guys will object to my exclusionary last-named ‘crop’.

BUT, I am more than certain that these same brethren WILL agree at least on the aspects of vegetables and fruits. My conception is for us to continue cultivation, in backyards, windows, verandahs, gardens and agricultural/‘mountain’ lands, of traditional fruits and vegetables, of recently more neglected ones, of rare fruits and vegetables, and of some vegetables and fruits stereotypically believed to be “suited” to the temperate climes only.

I WISH that our civic leaders and agricultural professionals would help engineer another attempt by SVG, after the historic 1700s to ONCE AGAIN import plants and unique botanic species from Tahiti and the Pacific isles, East Africa, India, and (new) Vietnam, to transplant and regenerate in our SVG homeland. Yes, another “breadfruit” re-import and revival. We sorely need to revitalize the species, after these many years. Thank you, Dr Young.

I know that there are a number of Vincentian nationals doing their little or very level best in many quarters, but we need a whole national community development effort. This must be an intrinsic part of our national effort and communal resuscitation. I could mention the premiere herculean contribution of Jethro GREENE and his Organization for Rural Development (ORD). He and his co-workers made an as yet unmatched contribution to SVG community agricultural plant. The efforts of Solomon Butler are noted here, and also that externally of Vin Samuel, of Dr. J P Eustace biographic writer fame.

Non-parochial: The effort must NOT be ‘party political’, and certainly NOT ‘ideological’. There ought to be a supreme emphasis on individual freedom, free enterprise, and a pragmatic emphasis on a natural agrarian culture. Governments or parties may encourage or help facilitate, but NOT control. No DEATH by ‘Arrowroot Industry Association’ incorporation, Government-run dairy industry, politicized sugar industry, politically-controlled Banana Growers’ Association. The entry of the politicians ‘ORGANIZING’ these sounded their very death-knell. The history is still recent; check it out.

The politicians sooner rather than later “mash up” virtually every “good thing” we have going for us, historically: cotton ginnery, sugar cane industry [twice], coconut-copra-oil-soap industry, and bananas. Flour and tourism are still limping along after political death-blows. The Roll-on-Roll-Off sea-transports, the tennis racket factory, other light-medium screwdriver industries located mainly at Camden Park Industrial Estates, the substantive Diamond Diary Industrial development, are but a few of the numerous enterprises willfully, ignorantly, spitefully and parochially destroyed by our backward politicians.

Shocking disagreement: The BANANA LANDS are woefully OVERWORKED. All such old banana lands MUST OF NECESSITY BE LAID FALLOW, ‘RESTED’, and allowed to naturally rehabilitate and renew themselves. Oh, certain carefully chosen ALTERNATE CROPS may be grown on these same lands, exceptionally, with the professional advice of the technical agriculture personnel [absolutely NO INPUT from the politicians] – – – though we should initially allow a full rest of one to three years, as deemed necessary.

Surprising: The sugar cane lands have for some considerable time now been sufficiently rested from the particular cultivation. We should RETURN TO SUGAR with dispatch. We do not need the big-factory paradigm; smaller, even cottage type processing with appropriate technologies can be quite feasibly, successfully undertaken. A large factory would still be within our reach, though.

How come BEACHE and STRAKER never followed up on their gambit, following the 1989 wipe-out polls, to obtain Castroite COMMUNIST CUBA’s help in re-establishing that industry subsequent to the MITCHELL DESTRUCTION? But, even with a MARXIST-LENINIST proponent leading their LABOUR PARTY Cabinet, they never did come forward, or did they? Could it be that CUBA really wants to DOMINEER the world market, and tolerate NO COMPETITION? Yuh doan tink that Comrade Castro would ah do dat one ting he good at for ‘Comrade’ Ralph of SVG?

Instead, the (former?) socialist orientation ideologue, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, races around interminably boasting that his dear Communist Cuban mentor, Castro, will give us a hospital facility in Georgetown to do something that a single Vincentian national, Dacent Henry, was already for a long time giving us for free. All we needed to do, at a critical minimum, was to purchase the requisite supplies. Oh, so many of our Vincentian nationals have died needlessly for want of these supplies for the already Henry-supplied Kidney Dialysis machinery.

SVG needs parity in our regional and extra-regional Trading and Treaty relations. We must take up segments of the OECS AND CARICOM sugar markets. We can comfortably brave the world market. We can develop bilateral and multilateral relations with other uncommitted markets for our sugar exports. JUST to supply our own State market is significant enough to provide sustenance. We may also do further utilization and processing of the raw sugar and other by-products. THEN, we may incorporate other means of producing sugar and related products, primarily/initially by natural (botanic) means. SVG has been egregiously disappointed, undermined and betrayed in our historic, faithfully negotiated regional market for flour. Yet, we are expected to docilely honour OUR agreements with regard to our neighbours’ other regional market preferential agreements. There is much to ridicule in the customs barriers placed on non-regional goods, such as electronics and automobiles. Our returning expatriates and diaspora continually chide us on this score. That is what comes with naively negotiating away your national interests in unfair, ill-advised treaties and agreements. SVG’s national interests must always take preeminence.

Fabrics: We have been highly reputed historically for production of the world’s best sea-island cotton. Let us capitalize on that, by substantially returning to cotton cultivation. But, let us expand the whole operation to TOTAL textiles production, and to upward linkages in OUR OWN production chain. We should be welcoming of any of the OECS brethren who choose to follow our path. We should persuade our JAPANESE and NATIONALIST CHINESE (TAIWANESE) allies to thoroughly immerse us into SILK PRODUCTION, again with forward and backward linkages. We should encourage our CANADIAN virtual ‘god-fathers’ to help us in manufacture of synthetic fibres, among other numerous areas of developmental assistance. We must gear and transform our aid receipt to be mainly helping ourselves through production, various levels and types of manufacture, yet based on the sound material foundation of a comprehensive, balanced, natural agriculture. The Guyanese Government made some solid moves in this direction just a few years ago; they may still transfer a lot of their fine insights to us as well.

Animal Husbandry: I get riled when these fellows make big brag about selling out our few animals. Are we to eat one another sooner rather than later? Would these my countrymen pay some closer attention to food security? We abandon our trawlable waters to the Asians and our few large animals to our Grenadian neighbours? We urgently NEED to build up our herds, nationally. Just look at the demise of the donkey species to gain an insight into the dangers facing our ‘cattle’ industry — or what little is left of it. Seems as if our trade officials/leaders are all ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH. Wake up, guys, and SAVE or SALVAGE SVG.

Yes, we need a balanced agriculture with extensive agronomy AND animal husbandry. If the Grenadian recipients are merely eating those animals that we sell them, then both OECS nations will sooner be facing severe meat shortages and ever more exhorbitantly higher prices, SVG even sooner. Foresight guys. We desperately need to build up the herds and even import breeding stock from Argentina and Britain. Indeed, misfortune and weather havoc, among other factors, are leaving US cattle [Texas, etc] ‘cheaply’ available to us. Our historic brethren in St Kitts could also help us in setting up a similar initially protected status goat herd. We can return the kindness and assistance in those areas where we are enabled.

Can the rural folk and especially those with agricultural plots seek to propagate additional breadfruit, breadnut, plantain, mafubay, greendie, figs, grosmichel, lacatan, Spanish nuts, other coconuts, all varieties of mango, especially grafted and Ceylon, plumrose, soursop, sugar apple, cashew, pawpaw, passion fruit, all other citrus, watermelons, sea grapes, various varieties of plums, avocado, guava, damsel, tamarind, bel apple, mammy apple, Star apple, prardo, and ‘fat pork’ – – – and others.

Agreement? I trust that our point of agreement would be that we can all seek to propagate, cultivate and produce increasingly more of our rich flora and fauna, including growing MORE flowers, vegetables and fruits. Let us ALL go steadily AGRARIAN and “natural” man, woman, and pickme. We NEED transcendent NATIONAL GOALS, non-parochial. This path should go a very long way in our beloved HAIROUNA, the micro-State of SVG forestalling UN-declared rapidly approaching international breaches in FOOD SECURITY. May we have a TOTAL NATIONAL EFFORT!

Steve Huggins

press.huggins@gmail.com

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