The words of the Minister of Agriculture Hon Yolande Bain-Horsford as she implements programmes to whip up interest once again in that which was the backbone of the economy. However, as Governments and seasons changed over the years, our economy rested heavily on service as opposed to Agriculture. Grenada was looking into offering a variety of service as the way forward. That may have worked well for a while, but lo and behold here comes COVID-19 pandemic which has now created a new normal where our leaders were forced to go back to the drawing board to come up with ideas to keep the economy afloat. What can be better than Agriculture –a natural gift from God?
The project of building a number of new hotels took off in a big way and provided lots of jobs, but it’s now at a standstill and people are turning to Government’s stimulus packages to sustain themselves and their families. Even while some parents are out of a job, they must now prepare their children for back to school come September. In Grenada a lot of people had moved away from the days when cocoa, nutmegs and bananas ran the home, as the focus moved to tourism. When our ports closed, which led to hotels closing as well, we quickly saw that tourism can no longer sustain us; so the onus is on us to build a more resilient sector. Success depends on the support of everyone.
The implementation of the back-yard garden component as we move forward, should be applauded, since it stands to reach all and sundry. Five hundred families stand to benefit from this initiative along with a few geriatric homes. Each recipient will receive a back-yard garden kit with a variety of seeds/seedlings, tools and other agricultural inputs. What a worthy venture! The Ministry also promised that its Technical Officers will work along with each family to make sure the programme works. We can only wish the Ministry well in that endeavor and it is our hope that they had learnt from past similar programmes in livestock that died along the way.
The implementation of 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 are all good promises. The Chinese Embassy has come on board and has recently donated some green houses to assist the programme. According to reports since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government has donated agricultural machineries and greenhouses to Grenada to help resume agricultural production and safeguard farmers’ livelihood. In a good show of working together in perilous times, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has recently made garden boots available to some farmers.
Some people have even gotten garden tools and seeds from the Anglican and Catholic churches which can be seen as a step in the right direction. We await to hear about plans for Agro Industries, plans to help us to depend on what we have, to feed ourselves. We 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 to help Grenada. We hope we may see the day again when a fishing school is established and we can also produce enough poultry and eggs to feed us as we move away from old colonial trends of depending on imported foods that keep us as a consumer society.
In paying attention to the workers interest in keeping Agriculture going, Minister Bain-Horsford revealed that during this difficult period brought on by the coronavirus, there were Officers of her Ministry who risked their lives and of their families to make sure that the Ministry was able to deliver services to the public. She noted that the workers at the various Propagation Stations and their supervisors worked tirelessly to make sure the propagation targets are 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. So Minister, your team and friends are behind you; we await the success of this ambitious venture you have embarked upon to help us to eat healthy to stay healthy!