Using region to feed Barbados

Barbados cannot grow enough of its own food,

and should instead pursue the CARICOM vision of

specialization of territories, enabling it to sow and reap

in jurisdictions such as Guyana and Dominica.

This is the view of political scientist Dr George Belle,

who has argued that the original vision for regional

integration was for the collection of territories to capitalize

on individual strengths of each other for a more

self-sustaining society.

He sought to debunk ideas that Barbados, with a

population exceeding a quarter of a million and growing,

could sustain itself in food production and manufacturing,

and said that the time is ripe for exploiting regional

resources and cut the international food importation bill.

Noting that Greece, with its economic problems

has turned to its regional Europe Union neighbours for

solutions, he said, “you could take Barbados and throw

it in there [Greece]. As a matter of fact you could take

Barbados and throw it in the Essequibo in Guyana,

many times.

“And we talking about how we going to be

self-sufficient. What we want is land in Guyana to feed

the Barbadians. That’s what we want. We want lands in

Dominica to feed the Barbadians.”

This senior University of the West Indies lecturer in

political science was recently sharing his thoughts at a

Barbados Pan-African Congress celebrations of the end of

Kwanzaa 2013, where he spoke on the way forward for

Pan-Africanist, socialists and other progressive persons,

focusing on the time now in Barbados.

“Barbados has to be specializing, and that is where the

regional model comes in, and that is what certain people

that were dealing with the Caribbean Single Market and

Economy in the time in the 90s understood,” he said and

added, “The things that we were doing in Barbados, we

were buying time to try to get success at that regional

level, because Barbados, especially Barbados, has to go

in that direction if it is going to go forward. Otherwise

it can go back.

Contending that given its size, Barbados could achieve

self-sufficiency if the population numbered 40,000, he said:

“I’m not against agricultural and farming [in Barbados],

but you have to see it in its context. This argument, this

national vision about autarchy, an old-fashioned view about

we would be self-reliant. The Chinese, tried that as well

and failed miserably. A massive country like China, and the

Chinese with their millions, and now billions, couldn’t

be self-reliant”.

He spoke of Dominica with its agricultural base

supplying some crops to Barbados, but envisions

a movement of Barbadians to Guyana with its abundance

of arable areas for farming.

“Guyana got nuff nuff land, and they need people to

work the land and to bring it [produce] back to Barbados.

“I know that the guy from SOL, [Sir Kyffin] Simpson,

he is down there now. But we don’t just want Simpson to

be down there, we want Bajan farmers to be down there,

Bajan people to be down there.

“And that is the kind of regional nation

I’m talking about.” (GA)

2 Responses to Using region to feed Barbados

  1. Tony Webster January 10, 2014 at 5:10 am

    Dear Doctor Belle: ( I was tempted to say, “That guy from Cave Hill)…firstly, “That Guy from SOL” is in fact, SIR KYFFIN SIMPSON…who just happens to be the most successful Bajan businessman in the view of many. The National Honor speaks to this, and it would be appropriate for a man of your great learning, to join most Bajans in giving due respect to this.

    I await governement’s response to your proposal for our own version of a “Great Leap Forward”….wherein all our farmers, might be transplanted to Guyana, and we could await all our food coming up here regularly by ship/LIAT/CAL. Ocean shipping is problematical: remember, the Federal Palm, now resting comfortable with the departed dodos? Who will purchase and viably operate, a new refirigerated ship? “CARICOM”? The Barbados government? ? I’m sure that the SOL venture has been well thought-through, and might just include some processing, and sales to nearby Venezuela, Trinnies, where-ever viability and profit- resides.

    Someone better than me, and even possibly you, might just wish to ponder on any risks that might be intrinsic in a wholesale dependency of external food; like, a shipping strike? A political falling-out with a Guyana government? Rising oil prices/cost of shipping? Might our farmers ever come back here…given the well-known allures of those Guyanaese ladies? What , exactly, might we usefully do with our hills and fields that will be growing sour grass and wild tamarind? Is a National “Grow Weed” programme, part of the Leap? We could perhaps modify our plans for a new sugar-factory, to enable us to produce “Barbados Best” grade weed in tablet, liquid, and rolled form. I suppose, we could even “enliven” our rum offerings, with weed-flavoured stuff too. The factory might also be “crafted” so as to spin and weave our vast pile of stored cotton that lies rotting up at Groves these many years.

    Truthfully, we can never expect to completely feed ourselves here: Guyana will never grow wheat. Or make cheese in quantity. It’s our own crass stupidity we have brought on ourselves, like importing sweet peppers from California (!!!) at $26 per kilo. And disparaging perfectly good rum, to choose to “flaunt our taste responsibly”…by sipping Brandy elegantly..for all our friends to see! And to buying steak at $70 per kg. when there are fresh flying fish to provide better much nutrition.

    If Government does not immediately take up your “plan”, maybe, you and a few devotees of the “New Great Leap”could go down to Guyana , and give Sir Kyffin a run for his money. Or, we might make another attempt, to open up a a solar -water-heating factory, in Nigeria. Nigeria, in fact, has a LOT more land, and therefore, “opportunities”. Meanwhile, I will pray for all the undergrads …at Cave Hill, who seek “enlightenment”.

  2. Clyde January 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    All of the Guyanese that are trying to come to Barbados, even in the state that it is in, could stay home and work the ground and grow the produce for us.
    As hard as things are in Barbados,you would not find too many bajans abandoning their home land to go to Guyana or as a matter of fact,any other Caribbean island .
    Next suggestion sir.


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