Home Letters Importance of agriculture to our survival cannot be overestimated
I was most shocked and utterly disappointed by a letter published in the media captioned, ‘Ad hoc activities in Agriculture can’t quite cut it’. If there was anything ‘ad hoc’, it was the very letter itself, which failed to address the Herculean effort of the Minister of Agriculture, but went on a verbal rampage and tangential ramblings meant to disparage that selfless and dedicated effort which is aimed at propelling the sector to unprecedented heights in this very year.
Let me make it pellucid: The importance of agriculture to our survival cannot be overestimated. Agriculture supplies food, clothing, medicine and employment all over the world. It provides food security to the human population, and it is the primary source of food products all over the world. All major food substances, namely carbohydrates, proteins and oils, are produced by agriculture. In other words, without agriculture, the human civilisation is doomed. It is our only chance of survival after oil is gone. We cannot, and must not, fall prey to the Dutch disease.
Yet, despite being cognisant of this indisputable fact, the Coalition Government attacked the agriculture sector with such hate and venom that the sector became decimated in a piecemeal manner. In fact, the sugar sector was the worst hit. This stark reality bore a direct correlation to the yearly unconscionable budget cuts and the filling of key positions with geriatrics and political hacks.
Where was that letter writer when all of this was unfolding for 5 long years? It cannot be that he was hibernating, since he seemed to be adept at pointing out the ‘poor’ performance of all the subject ministers. It is only now that he has come to full realisation that ‘Noel Holder failed agriculture’. Euphemistic indeed! He did not ‘fail’, he and the Coalition slaughtered it!
Why is this letter writer now doing a Rip Van Winkle? His intentions are laid bare!
This letter writer should scrutinise the budgets the Coalition presented and he would become aware of the fact that, every year, the budget for agriculture was reduced by at least 2 billion dollars, while the Office of the Presidency and other non-productive sectors were allowed huge increase to accommodate geriatrics of the Coalition. The Government’s coffers became the personal purse of the Coalition Ministers and their cronies and families.
It is clear that the letter writer has ignored the many plans which have been envisioned and formulated by Minister Mustapha, and which are awaiting Budget 2021 to unfold and be implemented. There are also detailed plans to bring back GUYSUCO to profitability, but it seems as though the writer has lost the ‘patience’ he feigned during the Coalition’s inglorious 5-year term in office.
He must be pardoned for concluding that the Minister is engaged in ‘ad hoc’ activities, since he may not be cognisant that the Minister was in fact conducting a SWOT analysis personally in every nook and cranny. He did not send, or delegate responsibilities to his subordinates, he went himself and assessed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by his Ministry, since he realised that the sector was massacred by the Coalition, and his Government must act decisively.
And in a mere 5-month period, he completed his analysis. He was welcomed in every community where he went, and every resident and farmer shared their views, unreservedly sharing their vision with him. He took notes, and even resolved many issues on the spot. This is unlike the ‘outreaches’ held by the Coalition after they were kicked out by the No Confidence Motion in 2018, and which cost the tax payers hundreds of millions.
Noel Holder was just enjoying the ‘good life’, just like his other cohorts, deliberately oblivious of the massive decline in the sector. The Agriculture Sector is in capable and competent hands, and the few naysayers with their destabilising agenda will not stop the trademark progress which the PPP/C Government is famous for. We must never forget what they delivered in just 4 months in 2020.