Food security is more important than everything else to maintain a country’s independence.
It’s all around us.
People bawling about the price of this and the price of that.
And we all have someone to blame.
Every politician gets kicked around but we aren’t blaming ourselves and our addiction to everything foreign.
Every year, we spend $5 billion on foreign food.
Trinidad and Tobago imports almost all our food.
Pick up any item on the grocery shelf or at PriceSmart and you won’t see a made in T&T label.
And we never stop to ask if we really need this stuff.
Almost every American fast food chain is present in Trinidad and using valuable foreign exchange to satisfy our craving for their food.
Even our roti shops need foreign channa and aloo.
The country has always had the capacity to feed itself when money was no problem agriculture remained the stepchild.
Every government has paid scant courtesy to the agricultural sector and today with the loss of the sugar industry the contribution to the GDP from agriculture is half of one per cent.
Every government talked about agriculture but none saw it in terms of ensuring real independence through food security.
Experts like Professor Allan Sammy talked about it ad nausem, but nobody was listening.
For generations farmers begged for incentives to help them feed the nation; they got lots of promises and no meaningful help.
A diversified Caroni (1975) Limited had the potential to feed Trinidad and Tobago if it had undergone real structural change recommended since the days of the Spence Committee in the 1970s.
Caroni owned 75,000 acres of arable land. Today most of it is abandoned; none of it is producing food.
Food security is more important than everything else to maintain a nation’s independence.
Today we are seeing the folly of an import culture.
What we are facing in 2016 was inevitable because we were like Cinderella having a great time but not paying attention that midnight was approaching and the mirage would disappear.
We were blessed with everything – land, climate, people and money. Still we failed to deal with the most basic problem of feeding ourselves.
Instead, we chose to erect new high rises reaching into the sky.
We boasted that the OECD declared us a developed nation but never stopped to ask by what criteria?
Today, the money is gone and our dollar is devalued. Our energy sector is rapidly declining and revenues from oil and gas are way below expectation.
Food distributors are warning of impending shortages and we seem to be heading back to the days when we had to ration food and buy essentials on the black market.
And once again, the politicians have no answers, except to blame one another.
There is an old saying that when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten…you will realize that you cannot eat money.
We are heading there fast.
And in our case we might have to eat the money.