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HomeE-paperAgriculture –a natural gift from God!

Agriculture –a natural gift from God!

The news of the Panama Canal being challenged for having enough water to accommodate the ships that traverse that area as a shipping point, is bad for us who depend on a lot of imported food. Then there is news of wars in different countries which looks grim as well for us. So when are we going to get it that we need to focus on feeding ourselves?

Grenada once was an agricultural island, but we have since moved away from the days when cocoa, nutmegs and bananas ran the home, as the focus moved to tourism. Quite a few people have invested in the Tourism Home-stay programme and added extra rooms to their homes which is working well for now. However, it may do us all good to focus on eating local and to introduce our guests to authentic Grenadian food. In that way they may be able to experience their meals coming from the backyard. Wouldn’t this be lovely?

The implementation of the back-yard garden component in the past by government, should be emulated, since it stands to reach all and sundry.  Five hundred families benefitted from that initiative along with a few geriatric homes. Each recipient received a back-yard garden kit with a variety of seeds/seedlings, tools and other agricultural inputs. What a worthy venture!  The Ministry also had Technical Officers working along with each family to make sure the programme worked. Here we ask whatever has happened to the rabbit rearing programme which was under the Ministry of Agriculture? It was supposed to be a continuum where the ministry donated rabbits to people who were expected to rear them and donate young ones back to the programme to keep it going.

We are also asking this week about the promises in the past to implement protective culture technology, refurbishment of existing shade houses on private farms as well as the various propagation stations and the construction of 10 shade houses which were all good promises. The Chinese Embassy also came on board and donated some green houses to assist the programme. According to reports in the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government donated agricultural machineries and greenhouses to Grenada to help resume agricultural production and safeguard farmers’ livelihood.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), through the Roman Catholic food for the Poor programme, made garden boots available to some farmers. Some people even got garden tools and seeds directly from the Anglican and Catholic churches. Shouldn’t those of us who knew how it was done during the Revolution step forward to help? After all, in Cuba, despite the US embargo, the people are not starving to death.

The plan to help Agro Industries take off again, is the greatest news for farmers at this time. Many of us  would love to see the day again when our fruits and vegetables are canned and not left to rot on the ground so that we can buy local and eat local. We can introduce our children to the part of our culture when we “went in the land” to collect fruits and vegetables straight from the trees. Some parents even had mules and donkeys which were used twofold; they carried the load and they provided organic manure. Some of our children today have never seen such animals not even on their tablets.

We also hope to see the day again when a fishing school is established. We also must get big on poultry and produce enough poultry and eggs to feed ourselves. The time has come to move away from old colonial trends including depending on imported foods that keep us as a consumer society.

In keeping Agriculture going, we need to remember the anxiety brought on by COVID-19 which sparked renewed interest in agriculture with officers risking their lives and that of their families to make sure that the Ministry was able to deliver services to the public. The workers at the various Propagation Stations and their supervisors worked tirelessly to make sure the propagation targets were met, the Officers of the Extension Division ensured that operations of the farmers’ markets were successful, Officers of the Lands and Surveys Division, Vet and Livestock, Planning Unit, Land Use Division, Pest Management Unit, Produce Chemist Laboratory and PR Unit all worked diligently to help us to eat healthy to stay healthy!

With the new minister taking over the wheel in the Ministry of Agriculture it is our hope that Agriculture will continue on the upward track. The Grenada Food and Nutrition Council (GFNC) is forever trying to get us to commit to making small dietary changes that will have an immediate positive impact on our health. The time has come to pay heed to that advice. Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) and obesity which are diet related, are said to be associated to the consumption of pre-packaged, processed, or ultra-processed foods high in fat, sugars, and salt. Shouldn’t the government come up with policy changes that will dissuade the public from their increasing consumption of processed foods?

This newspaper is urging all to be proactive as we view the trends that may force change upon us and let’s promote initiatives like ‘Buy Local, Eat Local.’ Agriculture is a natural gift from God. Let’s show gratitude by cutting down on filling children’s lunch kits with not so healthy imported stuff. Introduce them at an early age to local food!

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