The first ever “Agri Investment Forum & Expo” kicks off today at our Convention Center, and it’s gonna be a biggie!! You can gauge its magnitude and strategic importance by the fact that EIGHT Caricom leaders are jetting in to participate. These folks from tourist islands are used to an exhibition per day (including that of nekkid bodies!!), so this gotta be special to drag them in. So, why’s this event such a big deal??
If for nothing else than for donkey years Caribbean leaders have been moaning and groaning, to no effect, about rising food bills draining their treasuries!! This year, world food prices have skyrocketed, and their “natives” are about to storm the barricades!! Political unrest does tend to focus the minds of politicians wonderfully!! Think Sri Lanka!! This Expo’s their last best chance to at last get in on a plan that can solve their problems.
Ironically, they had the same opportunity exactly 20 years ago. Then President Jagdeo had the lead on food security for Caricom, and came up with a plan dubbed (very creatively!) “The Jagdeo Initiative”. Each territory was asked to use their comparative advantage – eg, we had land, TT had money, Barbados had marketing etc…and collaborate to solve the problem. But guess what?? The Caribbean crab-barrel mentality came to the fore, and thinking that Guyana would benefit most, they all folded their hands and sat on the sidelines!!
Manning from Trinidad – Rowley’s PNM predecessor – went so far as to flex his oil wealth by launching 18 “Mega Farms” that would supposedly take care of their needs!! Well, they all flopped, and now they’re not even back to square one – since their money’s run out and their food bill has ballooned!! Well, let’s see what they’ll do now that Guyana at long last has its own funds (from oil) and can go it alone if necessary.
But it all comes down to leadership, and from what we’ve seen, Barbados’s Mia Mottley is a cut above the rest – now and preceding!! She and Pres Ali seem to be quite simpatico, and your Eyewitness hopes she’ll take a lead in explaining to her peers that “there’s strength in numbers”. Especially when it comes to taking on a strategic project such as food security for the next century.
Ironically, all of us in Caricom are here because of agriculture – and in fact pioneered agriculture as an industry with our sugar, cotton, coffee and cocoa plantations!! At that time, we were shipping our production (and profits) to the imperial masters. Can’t we now use agriculture to feed ourselves?? Back in the (rigging!) day, Burnham had a slogan: “Produce or perish!”
Maybe his successor could remind the gathered Caricom leaders!!
…on protecting democracy
We in Guyana owe a great debt to Caricom for saving our democracy in 2020. We don’t have to regurgitate that nasty episode, do we?? What a change they were from the old Caricom that allowed Burnham to rig for two decades. While our country was destroyed and Guyanese refugees washed up on their shores! Your Eyewitness believes the least we can do – now that eight of their leaders are here – is to acknowledge our debt to them.
At a minimum, Mia should get a medal for being so forthright in calling out the riggers! Remember when – on seeing the rigmarole from the PNC camp on challenging the legality of their leader-initiated recount – she declared there were “forces here who didn’t want the recount”?? She was the leader who lent her great moral weight to the stance of Jamaica’s Golding to call a rig a rig!!
Even T&T’s dour Rowley was a prophet with his, “This will not end well”! Let’s big them up!!
…on Opposition’s role
A hat tip from your Eyewitness to PNC-APNU-Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton’s willingness to stiff-arm the extremists and build a democratic culture on that side of the aisle.
His call for national consultations on electoral reform will redound widely.