Return to the Land: When Necessity and Logic Means Wisdom
By Hwaa Irfan
Maybe there is still some hope for us yet! Truth doesn’t change hands, it remains the same from the Sumerian founders of the agricultural base of society, upon which as great civilization was built, to costly food imports, which means if you want to eat, plant it –the neglected wealth right under their feet!
Farming has become a patriotic act where students getting ready for school feed the chicken before leaving – a familiar sight to many in the days before the Washington Consensus.
The neo- liberal shift from developing and nurturing a real economy has turned food into a commodity on the stock market, and a billion-dollar threat to many countries in the Caribbean, a very fertile region.
Corporations have been left out of the picture with the Jamaican government motto “grow what we eat, eat what we grow” for the past 10 years. This really puts the consumer in touch with that which they consume, even though the colonial past of plantations and slavery are always present with the racism that goes with the region, – RESPECT!
Jamaica is now one of several countries that have given out thousands of seed kits to would be farmers, and has never regretted it! Four hundred schools have gardens maintained by students and teachers.
In Antigua and Barbuda, students go on regular planting missions, adding thousands of avocado, orange, breadfruit and mango trees to the islands, but in Jamaica, gardening and cooking are often part of every school day.
The New York Times describe some boys entering a Jamaican school, as their teacher Ms. Lewis quickly directs them to give water to the chickens, water the Scotch bonnet peppers, check on the callaloo — spinach to see if they are ready to harvest. Ms. Lewis proceeded to show a 14-year old boy how to loosen a carrot stalk. When the boy succeeded everyone cheered as Ms. Lewis told them: “You will not go to town and find carrots like this,”
Ms. Lewis has found that farming gave children with troubled backgrounds a reason to come. Farming beats RFID tags and has increased school attendance dramatically aided by the free and healthy breakfast made with ingredients that the students grew themselves.
“You can’t think when you’re hungry,” Ms. Lewis said.
Antigua and Barbuda was on track to produce half its food this year
The Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture puts effort in providing information on cost, how to choose a pant to grow, where best to grow it, and how to grow it, and harvest it, although the campaign needs to make a greater dent in the imported foods bill with nonsensical items like J$750 million spent on imported French fries in 2012!
However with US$17.2 million pumped into the Jamaican initiative from the European Union, the Food and UN, Agriculture Organisation it kind of defeats the objective of self sufficiency, an ambition that is thwarted by the problematic elite of the country, as exampled by the import of banana chips and other by-products while their local farmers cant sell their fruits, and have and going to waste!
“As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/world/americas/as-cost-of-importing-food-soars-jamaica-turns-to-the-earth.html?hp&_r=2&