Thursday, April 18, 2024

Let’s be loyal to Barbados


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AS WE ENTER THE NEW YEAR, let us all adopt a new approach to supporting our country as we continue to face the financial crisis.
Let one of our New Year’s resolutions be loyalty to all sectors of our economy to help our country withstand the effects of the recession.
We are taught to show our loyalty by standing up respectfully when the National Anthem is played. And when we sing our National Anthem, we proudly speak of, “We loyal sons and daughters all . . .” and “. . . greater will our nation grow in strength and unity”. But the spoken word is not enough, we need actions rather than just words!
We must also show our loyalty in more tangible ways like being committed and productive workers, paying attention to our health so that our health care bill does not continue to escalate, looking after our environment by not littering and by conserving resources and most importantly, supporting our local agriculture, manufacturing and tourism industries.
I agree with Lalu Vaswani of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry when he points out the need for improved business facilitation in key agencies such as Town Planning, Immigration and Customs which would result in increased foreign direct investment and new jobs from international business and construction sectors and mitigate the loss of these businesses to other countries where conditions are more favourable.
The Police Department must treat crimes in the agricultural sector with the same seriousness that it does those in the tourism and distributive sectors.
How can farmers keep the prices of food crops down when they are forced to pay exorbitant fees to “watch” their crops every night?
Furthermore, those in authority must make timely decisions on matters which affect the country as a whole.
For some time now the matter of unfair subsidies by the United States to the rum industries of Puerto Rico and St Croix has come to the fore.
Why are we lesser developed countries the only ones who are expected to play by the rules? When will we take this matter to the World Trade Organization? Why are we still “talking”? Why is American and Puerto Rican rum still being sold locally and at a much higher price than our local rums?
To make it worse, I even saw Bacardi Dragon Cherry Rum (Barbados Cherry infused with Torched Plant Aloe). Why do we always roll over and play dead?
With regard to what I consider to be unfair trading practices by Trinidad and Jamaica with our milk, why did it apparently take almost a year for the Government to become involved in resolving the issue?
 In the meantime, a huge backlog of milk was created which is now affecting present sales and is a contributing factor to the possible destruction of the local dairy industry.
With all of this in mind, why then is UHT milk still being imported from Trinidad? There is no price advantage, as I just checked and found that the Trinidad UHT milk costs $1 per litre more than its Barbadian counterpart.
How many years have we been hearing that we will soon see a conclusion to the fishing agreement with Trinidad? Yet there continues to be imprisonment of our fishermen and now, to add insult to injury, we are seeing frozen, packaged flying fish from Trinidad in our supermarkets. I trust that Barbadian consumers will take a stand and will not purchase this product.
While we expect Government to do its part in stabilizing and growing our economy and are disappointed at the slow pace at which Government departments operate, we, the consumers, must take matters into our own hands, show our loyalty to our own people and use our considerable power to support our industries by buying local as far as is possible.
I, for one, examine everything I buy. Just as I check the ingredients of foods to ensure that there is no monosodium glutamate or other additives which I consider harmful in the product, so do I check the source of the product. If it comes from Trinidad or Jamaica, I put it back on the shelf.
I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year.
• The Agrodoc has over 40 years experience in agriculture in Barbados, operating at different levels of the sector. Send any questions or comments to: The Agrodoc, C/o Nation Publishing Co. Ltd., Fontabelle, St Michael.


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