…in CARICOM Agri
The Caricom Heads of Government met virtually a couple of days ago; and, as they’ve been doing for the last nearly sixty years race to-face, they bemoaned the region’s rising food bill and swore to do something about it! Since they started out in 1973, that bill has more than doubled to way beyond US$4 billion! More than anything else, the experience with agriculture shows that, more than anything, Caricom has remained just a “talk shop”. How many times must we listen to their wailing on “food security”? The answer, Dear Reader, is “blowin’ in the wind”!
But it’s not COMPLETELY useless, since when it comes to issuing statements on the region, they sometimes serve a purpose. Like when they denounced Granger – whom they evidently refer to as the “Sanctimonious Gangster”! – for trying to steal our elections in broad daylight!
But when it comes to actually achieving something that involves working on something concrete, like with agriculture or an alumina plant, we shouldn’t hold our breath. It’s not for nothing that the “Community Agricultural Project” (CAP) never became a “COMMON Agricultural Project”, which most folks assume the acronym “CAP” stands for.
Back in 2003 – thirty years after the formation of Caricom, and two years after we’d supposedly transmuted into a “CSME” – then President Jagdeo had spearheaded a concrete proposal to solve the food albatross hanging on our collective necks. Dubbed the “Jagdeo Initiative”, it identified ten constraints that had to be overcome if the Region were to be successful in feeding itself, and even become an exporter of food to a hungry world.
The constraints were: limited financing and inadequate new investment in agriculture; outdated and insufficient agricultural health and food safety systems; inadequate research and development; fragmented and disorganised private sector; inefficient land and water-distribution management systems; deficient and uncoordinated risk management measures; inadequate transportation systems; weak and non-integrated information and intelligence systems; weak linkages and participation of producers in growth market segments; and lack of skilled and quality human resources.
But it “all went for channa”!
This lassitude in implementation of plans by Caricom has been its greatest failure. The bottom line is that, from the inception of Caricom (and its predecessor CARIFTA) Caribbean leaders have shown themselves absolutely lacking the political will to do what is necessary for the success of Caricom. Political will implies leadership, but the leaders in the Islands will never take the decision to cede some of their authority to CARICOM; we therefore end up with much talk and little action.
With our oil revenues, Guyana has overcome our greatest constraint – CAPITAL – and finally, Caricom can’t hold us back, because we have become the leaders in agriculture.
We shouldn’t waste too much time with Caricom to exploit our agricultural potential.
…on decorum in Parliament
Looks like the outrage over the descent into an ole time Guyanese “cuss down” in our Parliament during the Budget Debate is still simmering. But, inadvertently, one of the kvetchers suggested the solution to the controversy. Note that, like in our “Border Controversy”, your Eyewitness is careful not to use the word “dispute” or such like. A “dispute” implies there are several possibly valid sides to the matter under consideration, while anyone can raise a “controversy” – even without cause.
The whinger complained that it’s the Speaker “to blame”: he allowed the debate to “get out of hand”. But that’s nonsense!! In the millennia since the “House of Commons” has been around, it’s been the Speaker who has the authority to decide what is or is not acceptable on the floor. HIS WORD IS FINAL!!
Our Speaker is obviously aware that mores change through the years, and felt the boisterous exchange was “proper” for our circumstance.
…in COVID-19 fight
The US and Brazil have the largest numbers of deaths from COVID-19 in our hemisphere. It’s not coincidental that their governments disputed the science on fighting the pandemic: wear masks, isolate, and wash hands.