In a recent virtual discussion held for the Friends of the Earth-Grenada’s 30th anniversary, Food Security in Grenada and elsewhere was a major issue. As one of the panelists, Dr Guido Marcelle stated, the Caribbean imports an average of 83% of its available food.
Research has indicated that, if only 10% of this imported produce was replaced by locally grown goods, there would be an overall saving of at least US $33.3 million each year.
He continued by making an impassioned call for people to eat what they grow and grow what they eat in order to provide more nutritious food for their families and enhance indigenous biodiversity.
Senator Roderick JA St Clair, representing farmers and fishers in Grenada’s Senate, also reiterated the call for a return to kitchen gardens and also for more sustainable practices in the wider sphere of agriculture.
He also emphasised the importance of working in partnership across agencies to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected, a practise adopted by the Zero Hunger programme which works alongside local farmers to supply schools with fresh produce and the Food and Nutrition Council and several Ministries in supporting families on low incomes.
Senator St Clair also indicated that he will be working alongside the Grenada Association of Poultry Producers to grow this side of agricultural production, which will create more jobs locally and enhancing local economies.
However, these seem to be voices in the wilderness of food security in Grenada. Encouraging kitchen gardens is to be lauded but difficult to accomplish when people are going to be housed in multi-storey blocks with little or no accessible land for growing food.
Where are the policies and the leadership for promoting sustainable agriculture in the islands?
Numerous workshops have been held to encourage farmers to take up sustainable methods of farming, some entitled ‘Climate Smart Agriculture” and others such as Permaculture, however, we are not hearing how these are faring and if they have made any difference to the quality of farming in general and their contribution to sustainable agriculture in particular.
Guyana’s President, Dr Irfaan Ali recently announced, at a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), that Guyana is committed to providing strong leadership on the issue of food security.
He continued by saying that “we will continue to pursue the development of our resources and people through an expanded version of the Low Carbon Development Strategy”.
The LCDS is a strategy adopted by the Government to transform the economy to deliver greater economic and social development by following a low carbon development path. This begs the question – what is the strategy that Grenada is following if we even have one.
In 2018, Grenada hosted a conference on National Adaptation Plans, which focused on the need to have plans for climate change adaptation. Grenada was quoted as being ‘a regional leader in building climate resilience’ – the Guardian.
An educated assumption would be that within that plan would be a strategy focusing on ‘Food Security’ but to date Friends of the Earth -Grenada has not been made aware that such a strategy exists or is even in the planning stages.
Food Security means to have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. It also means that the people who produce our food are able to earn a decent living wage, growing, catching, producing, processing, transporting, retailing and serving food.
Can we honestly say that this is the state of play in Grenada?
Friends of the Earth –Grenada