Taking care …of food

The push for food security – “25 by 25” – in the Caribbean is kinda ironic when you think about it, innit? Weren’t our native Amerindians, over whom Columbus stumbled, eating and living by the principles of food security? We know for a fact they ate very balanced diets, and didn’t complain about “food security”. For vitamins, (fruits) they had pineapple, mammee, sapodilla, star apple, genip, guava and cashews, among other fruits. They cultivated maize (corn) on a large scale, with cassava, sweet potatoes and yautia etc as staple carbohydrates. They made cassava flour and cassava bread. For meat, they ate all sorts of small animals; which they grilled, baked, or used in “pepper-pot”, with cassareep being the main flavour!!
But our food “problems” came when the Europeans insisted our folks, who’d co-existed for millennia with their environment, were “uncivilized”, and everything about them was to be discarded – including those who were soon wiped out. The Europeans did things “their way”, including eating European foods. And as they brought waves of enslaved Africans and indentured Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, etc, European tastes became the “civilized” tastes, and, as such, were demanded by us, who wanted to be “with it”, and move up!!
In terms of food, most comes from plants, and in another ironical twist, our entire existence in the modern global system was because of agriculture!! We were shanghaied to pioneer this earliest of human endeavours on an industrial scale! So, what happened? Well, the Europeans decided we’d produce those peripheral crops like sugar cane, tobacco and spices, while importing foods from Europe to keep THEIR farmers working!!
Now, all of this we already know. Hadn’t Burnham and Manley struck their leftist pose and decided we were going to feed ourselves?? Were they talking about “food security” before there was “food insecurity”?? Naah…they were just reacting to their economies imploding, and didn’t have the foreign exchange to import the foods we’d been weaned on, and craved. After all, it wasn’t apocryphal that Burnham cried out for “condensed milk” on his death bed, was it??
Anyhow, while there’s nothing wrong about growing our own food and moving off “foreign foods”, what they attempted was an ancient economic notion called “autarky”! Your country gotta be completely self-sufficient and become an island (no pun intended!!) unto yourself!! This had been debunked by the “free trade” theory, wherein countries concentrate on things they have (or can acquire) as a comparative advantage, produce and export those things, then use the foreign exchange earned to buy WHATEVER else is desired!!
But we never learn; so, we have Jamaica producing Irish potatoes all right – but at EIGHT TIMES the imported price!! So, are we going to try producing artichokes and asparagus etc!! But how about condensed milk??!!

…of mind
It’s said that every man’s home is his castle – with the expectation that he’s gonna be left in peace to do as he pleases there. But even though the Middle Ages are long gone, and one would’ve thought that the era of folks using battering rams to break into castles were over and done with, from the eighties, we had our “kick-down-the-door-bandits” — inspired by the PNC’s terroristic onslaught on the citizenry, to keep them cowed for Burnham’s dictatorship. That’s left a lasting legacy of windows and doors grated with steel bars, so most Guyanese actually live voluntarily in JAILS!! But there still isn’t security of mind in the grated castles – witness reports of folks being regularly burglarized, and even killed.

But now there’s another irony: with oil revenues pouring in and our GDP being the fastest growing in the WORLD, of course we shouldn’t have anyone going hungry?? But it does take some time for the economy to adjust our 14.5% take of the oil profits so that everyone has jobs, no??
Sadly, there’s no magic wand.

…of tenure
How come UG’s been around for almost 60 years and its graduates can barely read and comprehend beyond primary school level?? Cause the staff has security of tenure, where they are never evaluated, and can’t be fired!!