We need a national Food Security System to ensure good quality, nutritious, healthy, fresh foods are affordable, available and accessible to all citizens. That System must be built on solid foundations with maximum support for our farmers and the means they need to sustain it.
The reality is, St. Lucia is threatened for lack of enough food to feed itself. This is NOT an exaggeration. The evidence is clear. Local farmers are not motivated to till the soil anymore. In recent years, many of them have simply abandoned their farms and the trends continue.
Consequently, local food production continues to dwindle.
St. Lucia is approaching a point, where increasingly, it has become largely dependent on basic food imports to feed its population. Locally produced foods are simply not readily available, accessible, or affordable, to a significant segment of our population.
Regrettably, it appears that no one seems to care. The nation as a whole, seems powerless or unperturbed about what to in this situation.
We are faced with a looming crisis and not even officials who are supposed to be responsible will take the threat seriously. They seem to be taking it for granted that, in due course, the situation will correct itself.
St. Lucians must understand that without a plan, serious efforts and concrete actions, the local food insecurity situation will persist.
So, it’s left to those who care, mean well and understand the magnitude of the threat to step forward, with concrete ideas and suggested solutions to address the situation.
Considering the seriousness and scale of food insecurity in St. Lucia, it’s without question, we need a nationally coordinated Food Security System.
To start with, in support of that system, we need committed, dedicated, serious – all patriotic citizens: farmers, community activists, professionals, agricultural experts, advocates, well-wishers, those who believe in the principles of self-help and self-sufficiency.
The lack of a national strategy for a coordinated food security system undermines the willingness, capacities and desires of average citizens to identify with that project. It’s about time that we muster the courage to confront those impediments stopping us from taking charge of our food security obligations ie. produce foods in sufficient quantity to meet local needs and demands.
Lately, we have seen a slew of international agencies, inter-government Bodies, NGOs offering to help with a System to advert the local food insecurity crisis. Many of them have been given unprecedented and unfettered access to youth groups, farmer organizations, students, policy-makers, the technocrats and even family groups, to advise and even take the lead as to how they perceive our needs and how to proceed, meeting those needs.
They tell us what to do and how to approach the situation. But clearly, there is not much in evidence to show in achievements, or success. Instead, the results of their efforts have not seen to be making a significant difference. Besides, it’s not even possible to tell if they are making a positive impact. Since we have no mechanism in place to: set appropriate regulatory guidelines, standards and evaluating systems that I’m aware of, to monitor and oversee the works and practices of these agencies.
It’s almost embarrassing to witness how prepared, ready and willingly, we surrender such important obligations. We casually step aside making way for others to do things for us that we should be doing ourselves.
Food security is a national security issue, and so, St. Lucia needs a national Food Security system and strategy. St. Lucians are too quick to give up their obligations to people whom they falsely assume are superior to teach us about things we already know.
St. Lucia’s Food Security System remains the responsibility of its people and the officials who are mandated to work with us.
This role should not be left to foreign interests, or to any “fly-by-night do-gooders,” claiming to be saviours.