Letters & Opinion

Priorities… Do we have them right?

Luring Youth Towards Agriculture
Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Independent Eye by Kensley Peter Charlemange

THIS hotel here, that hotel there, sickens me. Maybe the prime minister knows something that we don’t. The world is evolving but we do not seem to be learning our lessons. You cannot have an economy running on one foot. We did it with charcoal. We did it with sugarcane. We did it with bananas and we have been doing it with tourism.

For the longest while I have been hearing about agricultural diversification. It has been very slow in coming. That, of course, is to say that we have not gotten our priorities right over the years; a nation that cannot feed itself. Where are we going with that? Saint Lucia is the envy of many islands when it comes to arable lands but we continue to give away some of those best lands for hotel development. Which is truest; people must eat every day or people must travel every day? The people who travel must eat so we have to get our priorities right.

Then we have to look at our health. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Grow what you eat and eat what you grow. There is so much wisdom in these lines that we can write books about it. In fact books have been written about it but you wonder if our leaders are reading them. If I grow what I eat, then I know what I am consuming. Are we encouraging for example backyard gardening? I know that in times past, the ministry of agriculture was undertaking such an endeavour but where is the continuity and sustenance?

Honey is where the money is. Have we explored our comparable advantage in that field? What has happened to our biodiversity programmes? Biodiversity at one point was the watch word. Have we done so much in advancing that cause that the buzz has died out? Bees are under threat worldwide and that threat is a threat to human existence. With a thriving apiary industry the interrelations will happen. There are countless testimonies to increase yields where bees are kept.

Still on agriculture, why are we dragging our feet on the legalisation of marijuana? The world is leaving us behind. Everyone is going ahead of us and we are looking at their behinds when they should be looking at ours. My understanding is that the government is committed to moving that way but so far no word from the prime minister on the way forward. We are dragging our feet. Soon we will have no soles left until we have no soul left.

Let me end off where I started. There must be a God in the heavens. Fairmount Hotel! Exactly what is happening there? Nothing? Thank goodness! Please leave our beaches alone. Village tourism. I am all for village tourism. Choiseul and Anse la Raye are good places to start. I have heard that term being bandled about so much but I have no concept of what the government’s idea of village tourism is. The tourists are looking for something authentic. Not fine dining plates all over the island. Certainly not a Dubai. I met a tourist in Soufriere recently. He was taking a photo of a small old wooden hut. I went up to him and jokingly asked, “Did I give you permission to take a photo of my home?” The interrogation turned into a conversation. He ended up telling me he likes strange things. The tourists are coming here for a unique experience. Let us not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

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