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Guest Editorial: Keeping it Local

  • Written by  Rawle Nelson

As countries of the sub region move along in their quest to reduce their food import bill, it is really imperative that the relevant authorities offer to local producers the opportunities to develop themselves into serious, competing entities that can earn the trust of consumers and gain their support over an extended period of time.

 

Recently there have been increased talks with regards to IMF’s recent visit to the country. While a lot of persons have expressed optimism over the visit some remain resolved, that all is not lost for the country. And rightfully so, the NDC on a recent radio programme cunningly sought to get its guest, Dr. Andre Haughton from the University of the West Indies Mona Campus to give the impression that it is bad for Grenada, and all Grenadians should beware as the country is destined for destruction as the report is so bad that job loses will be massive.... Certainly this is far from the truth. 

However, the skilful and firm manner in how the professor answered the questions should be commended, as he dispelled rumours while giving the public facts thus resulting in a number of myths being addressed.

Over the years, we have heard about this part of the world, producing not only the tastiest of several kinds of produce but also what is of enviable nutritional value to what is available from other regions of the world; so the demand should certainly be there and probably has been for a while. We must understand that still none has been able to capitalise and it has become much more difficult with others, now being very circumspect in relation to producing and consuming their own, rather than looking for what is available from elsewhere.

We are of the view, that all is well and good to suggest that the various countries, if they plan well enough, can find that they have the wherewithal to not only support their residents and special guests, but could well see the way to send some of their produce, one to the other, and certainly maybe further afield to satisfy those Caribbean nationals who have taken up residence in other parts of the world even though on a limited basis.

But the onus at this stage, must be the ability of the people of this spice country Grenada to satisfy a demand and this has to be done first of all on the national level. This, however, cannot be done unless certain levels of trust are satisfied on both ends of the scale.

As it is, there are some aspects of food production in the country that get neither the attention nor the support they deserve and need in order to be successful. Let us look at the fishing industry as they can be referenced in such a scenario, especially since of late, there has been much concern in several areas of this potentially great money earner.

As such, as there continues to be reasonable efforts on the part of local associations or co-operatives, there is still much left to be desired when it comes to fisher folk working and producing a quality of product that consumers will always feel comfortable buying.

This of necessity means, that there will have to be some sort of regulation covering the use of established fisheries facilities in the country. It must be counterproductive, that there are still so many maverick fishermen moving around the shores of the country, packing their catch in buckets and ice boxes and moving around trying to make daily sales of their catches. The world is at a stage, where food safety is paramount and nothing can be left to chance as there are movements between suppliers and consumers.

Here at the Grenada Informer, we wonder if it might not offer more to the fisher folk, for instance, were able to take their catch to the fishing complexes and be paid for their produce, which can then be properly put into categories, cleaned and packaged and then transported to participating supermarkets and grocery stores.  What some fishers are saying though, is that the authorities  put us in this kind of situation  to offer them less for their produce when they would have spent so much time and effort on the high seas in order to bring good quality fish to the tables at home or in the various hotels and restaurants of Grenada.

They must understand, however that proper organisation and structure, not only get regular, it is not consistent payments but also allows for the safety expected by consumers when it comes to the consumption of seafood. We have recognised that it has been established in many instances that some people apply questionable methods in getting their catch and might even be involved in fishing in waters outside of what is legally allowed. Whatever is the case, both the authorities and those seeking to satisfy the needs of consumers have to find common ground and then work toward  making the industry survive and thrive. It could just redound to the benefit of more than just the fisher folk and the consumers they supply with the rewards of their labour. Like Dr. Haughton said, the public need to be cognisant, that they need to be more entrepreneurial thus resulting in accessing and utilising more local produce if they are going to confront the difficulties and challenges head on.

by Rawle Nelson

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