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We’d more easily perish the thought

As campaigning for today’s general election in Dominica entered its final stage, it was both surprising and ironic to hear the talk again this past weekend of Barbados getting its supply of fresh produce from Roseau.

Granted, the latest utterances were not from the lips of the incumbent Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is not in any position today to promise anyone, or any place, including Barbados, anything, as his fate now rests solely in the hands of the 70,000 plus members of the Dominican electorate.

The same could also be said of leader of the opposition United Workers Party, Lennox Linton, who we daresay could not possibly have been heard making any such pledges, especially after canvassing all across country and town crying foul over the state of the country’s agriculture sector –– which he says is a mere shadow of what it was 14 years ago when Dominica earned about $40 million from agriculture with each farmer cashing between $15,000 and $20,000 a year.

“And right now in 2014, farmers who used to make $2,000, $1,500 a month on average, $15,000 to 20,000 a year, found themselves with absolutely no money under this DLP [Dominica Labour Party] government,” Mr Linton said in the midst of the general election campaign.

“At a time when you are making no money from bananas, they are asking you to vote them again for another five years.”

Mr Linton mentioned that during “rough times” agriculture had worked best for the poor and ordinary people.

“And when we look at what has happened to agriculture, what has happened to our farmers, what has happened to our fisherfolk, it bleeds our hearts,” he said.

From the sound of it, there isn’t much produce currently left for export.

It therefore took us by surprise to hear officials in Bridgetown going on again about the prospect of fresh produce from Roseau after we had more or less perished the thought of any such enjoyment, following the untimely passing of late Prime Minister David Thompson.

Ironically, he had used the swearing-in ceremony for his new Cabinet at the Kensington Oval back in 2008 to signal that a reduction in the cost of living was his first order of business. With the Dominican leader in attendance, Mr Thompson had assured us that “Prime Minister Skerrit is here to begin talks as to how we can break up the monopolies that control our food supply and to make sure the fruits and vegetables that may be rotting in Dominica can end up fresh and cheap in Barbados, to lower the cost of essential foods for all . . .”.

Over six years later, the corners of our mouths are still dry from our over-salivating about the prospect of fresh, succulent imported fruit. At the same time, cost of living remains a serious bugbear, as our domestic food prices continue to go through the roof.

We would therefore like to hear more from Acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy about who is actually going to deliver on this latest promise of Dominica produce? Or is this another case of empty words?

We certainly hope not!

Especially when one considers the amount of work and investment that Canadian entrepreneur Ian Dash has put into the SV Ruth, which was officially launched here on Saturday at the Old Fish Market, Bay Street, St Michael, as the first vessel to take forward the so-called Caribbean Sail Cargo Initiative.

Kudos also to Sir Hilary Beckles and the University of the West Indies for jumping on board with such a project.

However, before we can shout of any “triumph” of entrepreneurship, international diplomacy, and UWI project management, as has Sir Hilary has, we will need to see the promised trade in action –– and indeed the movement of food between these islands, along with the commensurate reduction in costs.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to cost of living, cost of living, cost of living!

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