A ‘Glocal’ Food Crisis

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

Wheat prices have tumbled from its peak when Russia had invaded the Ukraine, but one of the worlds most consumed items remains in short supply and that the global hunger crisis still remains. Much like oil, steel and beef, wheat shifts its price and availability in response to many complex factors such as geopolitics and the weather. Declining prices of wheat creates a challenge to our economies, one where low prices of wheat may not incentivise farmers to plant more wheat, thereby creating more scarcity of this product and its many off take products. A lower price for wheat does not deal with the ever increasing cost of energy, which affects the cost of running farm equipment, transportation and even the manufacturing  of needed fertilisers.  Hot, dry weather is also crimping the farmers style of crop growth. Our global economy is facing a potential situation where food prices could spiral out of control. 

Russia and the Ukraine account for 1/4 of global wheat exports. That is what war has affected. A man made crisis that may go into the long term. Adding global drought episodes and we are facing a combination of scarcity, corporate profiteering and ultimately food price gouging like not seen before. Wheat prices are at a level seen before the year began.  @ $7.75 per bushel jumped to over $13.00 right after Russia invaded Ukraine. The price stayed in double digit’s through this June and then began to fall to a $8.00 a bushel level. Winter Wheat stocks also brought the price down and a deal between Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations has allowed some wheat to ship to international markets. 

The cost of wheat and many other foods have been affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine, but the real factors that will affect the price of bread, cereal and other items will be climate change, the price of fuel and fertiliser.  Climate change is making crop growth highly unpredictable. Lack of rain, drought level micro climates and over harvesting of single crop items are limiting what can be grown and harvested each year. In Canada temperatures soared to record highs, making three fourths of the country’s 2021 agricultural land  abnormally dry. Canada’s wheat crop dropped to nearly 40% from 2020 to 2021, causing its exports to Latin America to decline by over three million tons.  Also, in 2020 wheat was about 30% cheaper then it is now. 

Because Russian fertiliser is so important to the global farm trade, it avoided international sanctions. Although high prices hurt countries that import wheat, low prices might dissuade farmers from planting extra crops this year. Over the past decade the number of farms closing production has increased. Family farms are becoming less and less, while corporate farms of thousands of acres specialise in the most profitable of crops, often no those crops that feed the nation. 

Like the stock exchange, food prices are on the move up and down, making money for some, and costing money for others. Whether the costs are artificially kept high, or there really is no controlling our food stuffs costs, the end consumer is in for a roller coaster ride, and their pocket books need to look out.

Cost of Living Matter (2) – A Time to Remain Unborn

Some ‘insane’ Barbadians are asking the question again – is the standard of living we have become accustomed tosustainable. Is it sensible for us `a net importer and purchaser of foreign currency to promote and implement policies that guarantee we must BORROW billions in foreign and local dollars to fund the short fall not covered from taxes collected in the case of domestic and foreign earnings?

Many years ago, ironically at the tail end of the last economic boom which Barbados never recovered, former Prime Minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians about dark clouds on the horizon and the urgent need to make adjustments. To be expected we continued to engage in immature partisan political ranting as the walls of our society cracked are now tumbling around us.

We are a tiny island with zilch natural resources having to depend mainly on the fickle invisible export of tourism to generate foreign exchange to pay for our conspicuous consumption habits. We continue to build oversized homes, purchase fossil burning expensive SUVs, travel to distant lands to fulfil manufactured aspirations , aspire to study at elite universities, select exotic foods from supermarket shelves, the benefits sold to us on foreign cable beamed into our homes 24/7. To any sensible and educated person the dinosauric economic model could not and does not sustain the level of expenditure we have to incur. There is a good reason why Barbados’ economy has been described as open and susceptible to what economists fondly refer to as exogenous shocks.

On top of the obvious challenge of managing a minuscule 6-8 billion dollar economy largely dependent on a fickle tourism product, there is sufficient evidence – see Auditor General Reports outlining a litany of public sector malfeasance (private sector is always complicit) AND corruption to conclude we make a challenging situation more difficult. With revelations coming out of the arrest of former government minister Donville Inniss et al, there is evidence a culture exist that feeds corrupt behaviour. Although not a unique circumstance to Barbados, Barbadians must hold ourselves accountable for the kind of country we want to build for our children.

Many in this space lived through the 2007/8 global crisis and the oil crisis of the 70s. It is evident from the experiences of the two episodes we have not learned enough to commit to implementing resilient ‘fit for purpose’ policies. WE have allowed ourselves to buy into the ‘good life’ of consumption fuelled by an economy built on beach ground. Even in the face of the obvious, we have to listen daily to bull pucky discussions designed to take us no where. Unfortunately with the multiplicity of agendas to satisfy, with social media a ready purveyor of the inane the blame culture has taken deep root.

It is 2022, according to establishment analysts were are on the precipice of another global recession, one that should it occur given our fragile open economy will again wreak havoc on the lives of Barbadians, decimating a debt ridden middleclass and moving the poverty line north. Our visionless leaders combined with a level of disengagement from Barbadians – who the blogmaster has always contended ceded entitlements under our democracy to the political class – will have to suffer again for it until we learn to do better. The reference to a people getting governments they deserve has been recorded countless times in this space.

To the immediate matter at hand summarised in the article shared by a BU family member:


Rising food prices are changing the way we eat and shop

Emily Peck

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/U5xvN/1/Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios Visuals

Skyrocketing food prices in the U.S. are changing the way Americans eat and grocery shop — they’re buying more store brands, and less costly meat and produce. Some are now just making do with less.

  • Meanwhile, food manufacturers continue to “shrinkflate” — putting less potato chips or cereal in the bags and boxes that we buy.

Why it matters: This is inflation hitting home, contributing to the overall bummed-out mood of the nation.

  • Once upon a time, grocery shopping mainly fell to women, but these days 92% of adults do it. That means most everyone’s noticed rising food prices — and many have adjusted in ways both minor and potentially devastating.

Driving the news: The cost of “food at home” is up 11.9% from last year, the largest increase since April 1979, according to the scorching hot inflation numbers released Friday. Nearly every category of food the government tracks saw accelerating price growth. The most inflationary categories, as highlighted in a note from JPMorgan on Friday:

  • Egg prices up 32% year over year, thanks in part to a January bird flu outbreak that killed about 6% of commercial egg-laying chickens, as Axios’ Hope King explained last month.
  • Fats and oils were next on the list at 16.9%, partly due to the war in Ukraine, followed by poultry (16.6%) and milk (15.9%).

Unusual trend: The increases in prices for food at home are outpacing food-away-from-home, which is up *only* 7.4%.

  • This is “historically unusual,”JP Morgan notes. The growth differential is the widest since 1974, they said.

State of play: For a good snapshot of how rising food prices are changing behavior, we checked the most recent Beige Book — where the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks report on economic conditions in their area (h/t Planet Money’s Indicator podcast on this one):

Read full article https://www.axios.com/2022/06/13/rising-food-prices-are-changing-the-way-we-eat-and-shop

What Can be More Important than…

Submitted by Bentley

I’m sure you must have seen this article from GIS (see below).

While I totally agree with the need to address food security by regional leaders much more is needed to be done if we are to ever come close to satisfying the food requirements of the region from regional sources. With specific reference to Barbados there are several areas that we need to urgently address. These include:

  1. Getting an effective praedial larceny act in place,
  2. Giving meaningful incentives to small farmers,
  3. Work towards removing the stigma associated with farming and agricultural work,
  4. Allow would be small food crop farmers to have a real stake in the sector (provision of unused parcels of government land at viable concessions, revive the agricultural seed store with a wide variety of viable seeds),
  5. Put conditions in place to control crop pests especially monkeys. I’m sure there are several other factors you can think of.

Food security and food crop farming must be seen as important by every member of society and government must do all it can to ensure this is achieved. 

I remember the late Dr Keith Laurie saying that during the second world war Barbados was able to feed itself since no food was coming in from outside. There is no good reason why we can’t achieve this on a Caricom wide basis.

See GIS article referred to by Bentley


It’s Time To Secure Region’s Food Security

BY JULIE CARRINGTON | MAY 20, 2022 | TOP STORIES

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addressing the the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, while regional leaders and officials look on. (PMO)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has used the platform of a major agriculture conference to make a strident call for regional heads to join together to ensure the region’s food security.

She made the call yesterday during the opening ceremony of the three-day Agri-Investment Forum and Exhibition in Guyana, as she spoke on the topic: Pursuing CSME and Removing Barriers to Enhancing Agri-Trade Within the Region.

Ms. Mottley told the large gathering that the ongoing crisis with Russia and Ukraine had reinforced the vulnerabilities of the millions of people living in the Caribbean, based on the effect of wheat and other food restrictions in place by some overseas countries which export wheat and its by-products.

The Prime Minister shared that Russia, the Ukraine and India had stopped sending important food and grocery items outside its borders, and warned of more restrictions to follow by governments to safeguard their food supplies in the face of soaring inflation.

She articulated the view that the entire Caribbean region had to be viewed not just in the context of the population in CARICOM of 18 million people, but also the visitors received on an annual basis, whose “responsibility is ours to feed”.

Ms. Mottley affirmed: “We are at that moment in time when it is up to us to stand up to the challenge or to recognise that the consequences of it will indeed be difficult and potentially devastating for our people. While we await the global initiatives to be announced by the UN Secretary General and the global crisis response team he has established on food, energy and financing with the expectation that what the world faces will be more challenging than what we faced in 2008 to 2010. We have a responsibility to take preemptive action in this region to protect our people.”

The Prime Minister and other regional heads also made a case for more regular transportation of goods across the region with the suggestion that a new solution be found to move the cargo.

“In this moment, when maritime transport is at its greatest challenge, we have to recognise that the bridge to resuscitating Caribbean tourism air transport may well be having regional air cargo moving to help offset the investment to move our people,” she emphasised. 

Ms. Mottley continued: “We may need to look at different planes and we may need to look at more regular traffic. The regularity of movement may well be the solution for us rather than these large aircrafts that move once or twice a day.”

The three-day event was held under the themeInvesting in Vision 25 by 2025, which represents the goal to lower the region’s US $6 billion food import bill by 25 per cent within the next three years.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

Engineers Getting In The Way

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

Portvale sugar factory continues to be closed at this most critical time of our crop season. Shockingly, the factory is still undergoing repairs after a two-week shutdown. Normally repairs happen during the planting and growing seasons, to avoid any shut-downs for repairs during the crop reaping time. Evidently, something has gone terribly wrong.

When CBC-TV finally broke the story that Portvale had already been closed for one week for repairs, the news reporter attempted to give comforting assurance and hope, by stating that: “the engineers are hard at work.” If engineers are seen to be hard at work on a problem that the public is aware of, then the situation must be very dire indeed.

THANKLESS WORK.

Experienced Engineers normally foresee problems and quietly solve them with permanent solutions – without any fanfare. Therefore, an Engineer’s work is normally thankless, because the public has no opportunity to complain about problems they avoided experiencing. The public are generally unaware that there was anything to give thanks for, when Engineers do their jobs well.

The Barbados media’s decision to treat the closure of the Portvale factory as a national secret, that the public had no right to know, is very troubling. The planters’ decision to spill the proverbial bean, by publicly complaining about the risk of canes rotting, may have forced their hand.

The Barbados media must resist the temptation to be the public relations arm and attack hounds of their political party, and start serving the public with integrity.

WHERE ARE THE ENGINEERS?

The more important issue is: Are there any Chartered Mechanical Engineers employed at Portvale factory to avoid these types of delays? If not, then are there any Chartered Mechanical Engineers working in the Ministry of Agriculture? If not, then is there a single Chartered Mechanical Engineer working in the entire public service of Barbados? Is there a single journalist in Barbados who can ask these questions?

If the Government of Barbados has decided to stop hiring Chartered Mechanical Engineers, then the public must prepare for a wave of: rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, more frequent breakdowns and closures, and unnecessarily higher taxes to prematurely replace poorly maintained infrastructure.

WHO WE ARE.

The effective solution is obvious. But we do not seem to want effective solutions in Barbados, because it robs us of an opportunity to show who we really are. We much prefer to let things deteriorate, because that gives the public the opportunity to complain.

The more loudly people complain, the more likely the problem will be temporarily addressed – at an unnecessarily high cost. These short-term solutions give the public many opportunities to show who we really are – a grateful people. We long to express our gratitude. But Engineers’ competence keeps frustrating that cultural attribute.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Would Rihanna Devalue the Fenty Brand?

Submitted by Heather Cole

Back to the Budget of a few weeks ago. Many may have missed it, many would have wondered why they were included in a Budget Speech and many are still wondering what is the real story behind black belly sheep making up a budget speech delivery when truth be told they had nothing to do with government revenue or expenditure.

Fenty is Rihanna’s brand and black belly sheep is one of the components of the Barbados brand. Rihanna would never consider devaluing the Fenty brand so everyone should be quite concerned and question why the Government of Barbados wants to devalue the black belly sheep brand.

In a part of her speech, the Prime Minister mentioned quite a few things in relation to black belly sheep that leads to the devaluation of the brand.

  1. She stated that the sheep were to be raised in Guyana and then shipped to Barbados for slaughter. This may not be a good idea as there is no evidence provided that black belly sheep can thrive under the conditions that exist in Guyana.
  2. She mentioned that the black belly sheep will be cross bred with another type of sheep in Guyana. This means that there is some knowledge that the black belly sheep cannot thrive in Guyana. If they could indeed thrive, there would be no need to cross breed to create a hybrid.
  3. One can only presume that this cross breed would be more suited to the environment in Guyana. A cross between a horse and a donkey creates a mule. What will the cross bred be? The soil and vegetation are not the same so therefore, the meat and fat content will not be the same and the quality of the hide will not be the same.
  4. She also mentioned the sale of two types of meat. One of the pure black belly sheep and the other of the cross breed. The pure black belly will be for export and the diluted cross breed for local consumption. Will they be packaged accordingly? How will a consumer know that they are consuming the diluted version and not the authentic brand? Will the taste and texture of the meat be the same?
  5. Have 400 years of slavery damaged us so psychologically that it is still acceptable to be offered food that is less than the best or can we still be forced to eat what the ruling class would never eat?
  6. She mentioned that there would be a price differential. How will Barbadians feel knowing that they may not be able to afford an authentic brand that was created right in their own backyard centuries ago? How will they feel knowing that they are forced to settle for a substitute? Is the meat of the authentic black belly sheep which will be exported for a premium price be too good for Barbadians to consume?
  7. It was not stated that government of itself would be farming the black belly sheep so why was it so quick to come up with the price differentials between the meat of the authentic brand and the diluted product, given that the production cost will be the same?

Two burning questions that remain, are which of the local farmers can afford to start a sheep farm in Guyana and if this venture is only for the select few. One will only know both literally and figuratively if the project gets off the ground and the meat comes to market.

A brand is a unique identity. The government of Barbados should get some help from Rihanna on how to market this authentic brand. Rihanna would never collaborate with anyone to dilute her brand and sell her merchandise at a cheaper price. If that were the case, she would not be a billionaire today. So why is the Government of Barbados destroying the identity of the black belly sheep to promote a cross bred hybrid? Who will be enriched through this venture?

I am all for the creation of an enhanced product but not for a dilution and devaluation of the black belly sheep brand of Barbados. Governments action to alter the breed of the sheep does not offer increased value since it has stated that the cross breed will be sold at a cheaper price.

Livestock rearing is not new to Barbados. Some of the land that will no longer be used to produce sugar cane can be used to rear sheep. Incentives can be offered to small farmers and all of Barbados to raise and produce this product for local consumption and for export while maintaining the authenticity of the brand. Government can also ensure that the real black belly sheep meat is available to all Barbadians by fixing its price per pound on the domestic market.

Government Initiatives to Address Food Supply – The St. Barnabas Accord

Russia’s war in Ukraine will disrupt commerce and clog up supply chains, slashing economic growth and pushing prices sharply higher around the globe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned Thursday….the 38-country OECD said that over the next year, the conflict would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) — the broadest measure of economic output — by 1.08 percent worldwide, by 1.4 percent in the 19 European countries that share the euro currency and by 0.88 percent in the United States.

OECD warns Ukraine war to push prices even higher.

The ongoing war in Ukraine obviously has implications for global trade and supply chains, consequently there has been growing attention to the issue of food and nutrition security. This comes on the back of the ongoing pandemic that has already disrupted the global supply with increase demand for certain products exposing challenges in production and distribution. With global challenges predicted to continue the obvious question for curious minds is to examine the Mia Mottley government’s agriculture mitigation measures under Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir. 

The goal of the F.E.E.D programme is to involve more young people in agriculture by training them and providing them with land and infrastructure after training by initially targeting was 1200 farmers. The government is also reportedly spending millions of dollars in St. Phillip and St.Lucy. The water harvesting project at River in St. Phillip is almost complete.

See relevant link:

https://www.facebook.com/100057813352043/posts/398749615395480/

There is also the Hope Training Initiative in St Lucy, funded by the Chinese Government.

See related link: 

https://barbadostoday.bb/2022/03/05/major-agriculture-projects-in-the-works-ministry/

However the agriculture project which captures the imagination of the blogmaster is the initiative at the Lears Land Lease project. It is a partnership between government and C.O Williams with the plan to allocate land between 5000 sq ft and 2 acres to 150 F.E.E.D programme participants. A component of the project is that it plans construction of a food terminal in partnership with Guyana and Suriname which should see Barbados becoming a southern Caribbean hub for the distribution of food throughout the region.  Barbados hopes to benefit from competitive prices for food products which are not produced in Barbados. Also there is another upside- products produced in excess like onions local farmers will have access to a facility to export to the rest of Caricom to ease any glut. 

See relevant link: 
https://youtu.be/8Y9ru2au2jM

Another initiative is the Blackbelly Sheep project which seeks to increase local blackbelly sheep population from 10,000 to 1 million in 5 years. This is being led by local black belly sheep expert Dr. Leroy McClean. The project is expected to utilize land space in Guyana for sheep farming and hopefully significant reduce lamb imports into Caricom. 

See relevant link:
https://youtu.be/yyxw0vrXAjs

These initiatives have resulted from the St.Barnabas Accords which is an agreement signed by Barbados, Guyana and Suriname on cooperation across several sectors. This partnership with Guyana – described for years as the bread basket of the region – is long overdue and was a part of the vision of the late Owen Arthur who all agree was a big proponent of the CSME, a component of CARICOM.

The blogmaster is about recognizing results, in this case the measure must be a spike in agriculture output by moving the GDP needle. However some marks must be given to the Mottley administration for the ongoing initiatives mentioned. For sure volatility in the global production and distribution commodities market demands the urgency of now by leaders for the region to cooperate and find ways to feed its people. Globalization as we knew it seems to be under threat- a new global order is emerging and countries are rethinking alliances and leaning more to smaller trading blocks. The St. Barnabas Accord along with others to be born maybe the way forward to circumvent more bureaucratic regional arrangements.

Is Food Security a Priority?

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the ramifications has brought into sharp focus the matter of food security in Barbados and the region. If we judge by the sums allocated in the Estimates over the years it is evident successive governments have been contented to pay lip service to the agriculture sector. It must be said that COVID 19 has seen greater effort to increase production in agriculture but it is not enough. The ongoing conflict has again exposed the region.

The blogmaster is aware a growing monkey population and praedial larceny continue to sabotage the effort of local farmers. It does not matter how much water you fill a bucket, if it has holes it will be a wasted effort. The small land space of Barbados means that a serious effort at implementing a food security plan must include collaboration with Caricom. It is good to see that Prime Minster Mottley and President Ali enjoy a good relationship. The relation must translate to something tangible.

See a copy of Trinidad’s Praedial Larceny Prevention Act.

<object class="wp-block-file__embed" data="https://barbadosunderground.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/praedial-larceny-act-tt.pdf&quot; type="application/pdf" style="width:100%;height:600px" aria-label="Embed of <strong>Praedial Larceny Prevention ActPraedial Larceny Prevention Act.Download

Check Out the Real Situation…

There is the popular expression credited to Sir Winston Churchill ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. It is believed Churchill’s reference had to do with an alliance formed after World War II between himself (UK), Stalin (Soviet Union) and Roosevelt (USA) which resulted in the formation of the United Nations. It is possible that out of chaos can come order to quote another.

It is ironic the world is again witnessing a crisis that if left unchecked could escalate to nuclear war. The battle between Russia – successor to the Soviet Union – and the Ukraine – former member of the Soviet Union – is another indictment of mankind. What cannot be denied is that the conflict will continue to negatively impact the global economy because Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat, oil and other commodities. There is also the collateral effect of speculators who influence price in the global financial markets.

What an epoch unfolding!

The conflict in Eastern Europe lest we forget is occurring at a time the global community is waging another ‘battle’ against the Covid 19 pandemic. It is a time we are reminded by members of the nonsecular fraternity that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12. To pragmatists the opportunity to create opportunities arising from crises is the goal while others remain anchored to being idealistic with perennial talk of end times. Truth be told for the blogmaster’s life and parents before this has been the refrain – soon come. 

Conscious of the need to promote in the Community the highest level of efficiency in the production of goods and services especially with a view to maximising foreign exchange earnings on the basis of international competitiveness, attaining food security, achieving structural diversification and improving the standard of living of their peoples;

RTOC

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine hopefully will galvanize a lazy political class to focus on food security for the region. Even if it is at the eleventh hour. Ever since the Treaty of Chaguaramas was established members have failed to exploit the resources of the region for collective benefit of citizens. The approach by leaders of CARICOM has been to feed inflated egos by luxuriating in the high offices of the land. Citizens of the region must hold themselves accountable by raising the decibel level on a dissenting voice, be as passionate to protest as is presently being demonstrated because of the Russia/Ukraine conflict. 

The same can be hoped for regarding if we have learned from the Covid 19 pandemic. Are we satisfied our businesses have re-engineered storefronts to efficiently deliver products and services to the public if the pandemic escalates or another emerges? What about the public service – what is the status of the project to make it fit for purpose? Should another pandemic or event occur that requires a shutdown to face to face service, does it mean a large number of public servants sent home to suck indefinitely from the nipples of taxpayers? 

It is two years and counting since the Covid 19 pandemic started and eight years the Russia/Ukraine conflict has been in the making with fighting in the Donbas regions. Are our leaders fiddling while CARICOM is burning?

Difficult Conversations – Start Planting

Submitted by Grenville Phillips II

If Russia goes to war with Ukraine, the member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have promised to inflict punishing sanctions on Russia.

NATO is a military alliance of 26 European continent countries, plus the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. Essentially, it is an agreement to defend any member that is attacked. Since Ukraine is not a member of NATO, sanctions is the option NATO chose.

There will likely be a United Nations General Assembly resolution to condemn any Russian aggression. China will likely side with Russia, and will expect its satellites to either vote with them or abstain. Given the satellites’ economic dependence on China, they will feel compelled to fall in line.

EXPOSED AND VULNERABLE.

Barbados is now in an entirely new situation. Previously, we were insured against aggressor nations by the British military. As a sovereign and independent nation since 1966, that was the only formal relationship we kept with Britain. Over time, we discounted the deterrent value of that insurance, until we shockingly declared in our Parliament that it was worthless.

Last year, we cancelled that invaluable insurance, because our extreme radicals successfully convinced the Government that this was necessary to end colonialism. That was lunatic-level reasoning. But it was generally accepted by our: politicians, lawyers, journalists, moderators, writers, poets, artists, musicians, and singers, who actively promoted that lunacy as truth.

TOLERATING DISSENT.

The historical record is littered with leaders who cannot tolerate dissent. They eventually view dissenters as somehow sub-human, and not deserving of any rights – only persecution, torture and death. Previously, we were protected from such tyrants – but now that we are uninsured and exposed, each of us must decide whether our integrity has any value.

In March 2020, the news priority for many was COVID-19. Therefore, the judgement of “The Independent Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from Prisoners of Conscience in China”, rendered on 1 March 2020, went largely unnoticed. In our now unprotected state, it is now relevant to us.

CONVENIENT SOURCE.

In the early 1990s, a new religion was formed in China, where adherents were to seek enlightenment through doing good deeds and suffering. It was a combination of Buddhist and Taoist traditions. It was called Falun Gong. By 1999, there were approximately 70 million adherents in China, and the Government decided that it threatened China’s social stability.

The Tribunal determined that forced organ harvesting happened since at least the year 2000. “The Tribunal assesses as credible numbers of operations between 60,000 and 90,000 per annum in the years 2000-2014. This, when compared to the number of eligible registered donors, which, by 2017, had risen to 5,146, leaves an incomprehensible gap.”

THE JUDGEMENT.

The Tribunal concluded: “In the long-term practice in the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) of forced organ harvesting it was indeed Falun Gong practitioners who were used as a source – probably the principal source – of organs for forced organ harvesting.”

The Tribunal explained why. “Since 1999 the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) regarded practitioners of Falun Gong as unworthy of any of those universal rights that attach to human beings by reason of their humanity”.

DIVIDED WE FALL.

As an uninsured country, we must be careful not to let our disagreements permanently divide us. Tragically, we have been brought to the brink of permanent division by political operatives, who try to destroy the personal and professional reputations of those who dare to disagree with their political party. That is who we have become, but it is not who we should be.

We should accept the right of all people to discuss their opinions, whether we agree with them – or find them utterly disgusting. So, whether they: choose to worship God or satan, are monogamous or promiscuous, are of our race or another race, choose to have sex with those of the opposite sex or the same sex, are sexually attracted to adults or minors, it does not matter – they are all part of this humanity.

UNITED WE STAND.

Once we make exceptions on who is allowed to discuss and defend their opinions, we will cross that boundary of justifying evil. Regardless of someone’s beliefs, behaviours, or opinions, we must love them enough to engage in honest evidence-based discussion. Where their actions have broken the law by measurably harming another, then they can argue their case in court. But even if they are convicted, they are still part of our humanity.

We must value our integrity enough to plead the cause of all persecuted persons – especially to leaders of countries with whom we trade. That means that Barbados should, at the very least, ask China to reconsider their persecution of the Buddhist/Taoist Fulan Gong, the Muslim Uyghurs, and the Christians. Or we can consent to their oppression, and accept whatever liabilities come with that consent, by our silence.

PREPARE.

We should prepare for war. Our grand parents explained that during the last European war, there were limited imports to Barbados. The planned NATO sanctions are foreseen to harm all nations, which may result in import shortages. Therefore, plant a fruit tree and sweet potatoes on whatever land you have. The soil has already been enriched with the volcanic ash, so our harvest should be bountiful.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Import it First Attitude!

It is often bandied about the ministry of agriculture (MOA) has more employees with PhDs than most places. However, if you try to plot a correlation between national agriculture output and number of post grad certifications in the MOA, there is a negligible positive. 

The late prime minister Owen Arthur warned Barbadians of storm clouds on the horizon and that Bajans should take interest in backyard farming, he was ridiculed- the matter was consumed by the usual political diatribe. The same occurred when the late David Thompson promoted a slogan of ‘crime and violence. It is ironic looking back that two prime ministers of Barbados were unable – although lead policymakers – were unable to change irrelevant behaviour in our people.

Despite three years into the term of the incumbent government and two years into a pandemic – have we seen enough activity in the agriculture sector given the urgency of now? The answer is NO!

Many times we visit restaurants and ask the question, do you have sweet potato to replace english potato, do you have natural juices to replace artificially flavoured etc, too many times the answer is NO!

What is the purpose of the social partnership if during a period of economic hardship stakeholders are unable to see the benefit of vertical integration approaches in the domestic marketplace?

The following video was shared by Bentley, long time BU contributor.

#foodfirst
#carmeta

Food Security: Eat the Cellphone

There is a popular saying “God helps those who help themselves“. The pandemic has been with us almost 2 years, we know any pandemic is likely to disrupt the global supply chain. We know Barbados is a significant importer of food, over the years successive governments have paid lip service to prioritizing food security. It is cheaper to import than produce in Barbados they say – what about forming a strategic relationship with other islands? What is the purpose of Caricom?

The following was sent to the blogmaster with the following question. The old people have another saying – “you have made your bed and will have to lie on it”.

David you want a better reason why we should have introduced a greenhouse project over a year ago than this?

Rekindling that Old time Community Spirit

Projects similar to this (see article attached) could be implemented on some of the acres of waste government lands scattered all over the country. If government is really serious about food security it would allow people (properly organised) to utilize non productive land for the purpose of growing food.

Bentley – BU Contributor

The pandemic provides the opportunity for households and government alike to innovate through progressive thinking and decision-making by reinventing how we reorder our lives. Whether it is efficiently and effectively implementing digital transformation, Minister Kerri Symmonds announced last week the government will be sourcing electric or hybrid vehicles to replace its existing fleet – long coming but good news. We beseech the private sector to follow government’s lead, this is normally the case anyway.

The blogmaster wants to see more individuals coming together to harness and benefit from community spurred activity. The idea of fostering a collective spirit is a key difference how we live our lifes today compared to days of old. It seems- and narrow sighted though it was- we developed a misplaced definition of advancement.

We can rekindle and foster community spirit by taking into account the following :

  • Identify your goals – and where you currently stand.
  • Work with what you have
  • Bring people together
  • Formalize it
  • Put people to work
  • Create lifestyle programs
  • Listen to feedback
  • Use your tools
  • Strengthen your brand

Source: Nine Ways to Build Community Spirit

If addressing food security is the priority item, let us get everybody involved. To move the needle we must have big farms to address demand for volume BUT there is also benefit of stoking participation at a micro level. The shift in attitude would naturally inform behavioural changes in other aspects to our lifes. We can utilize the community approach to rolling out financial products, matters pertaining to the environment, arresting crime and many more.

On a 23 by 14 (166 square mile) island a community based approach is our competitive advantage to be exploited NOW.


Community Vegetable Projects: Using Space To Put Food On The Table

By Guest Author – May 5, 2013 0

community vegetable garden

Implementation and maintenance

It starts with a community meeting, where the idea is put forth for discussion amongst those present. Whoever signs up for the project will have to commit to active and reliable involvement. Let’s say 100 people in a suburban community take part. They submit a project plan to the local municipality with all the names and signatures of those wishing to be involved. Once they’ve been allocated land, seeds can be donated by a nursery, supplied by the government, or purchased through money raised at fundraising events.

Security systems will have to be put in place, such as a barbed wire fence, which could be funded in the above mentioned ways. A small security Wendy house could be erected and manned by members of the community on a rotational basis.

The graveyard shifts can be done mostly by members who are not employed and don’t have to get up to work the next day.  The fields can be tended by groups of ten people for between three and five hours per day. The teams could be selected according to the similarity in each individual’s work and domestic schedule. https://0d672c20c9a7a0b96aef5e10f786fd55.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The municipality can help by installing plumbing and water at their own cost. After all, it’s the least they can do. Governments earn a fortune in taxes that are supposed to go towards things such as roads, but how much goes toward the single most important and basic human need – food?Related:   Awesome and Healthy Vegetables to Grow in the Winter

The entire project will be a valuable and positive investment for the entire country.

How community projects improve community relationships

  • Many hungry people will be able to put food in their bellies.
  • Members involved will enjoy a greater sense of community and well-being, knowing that they are taking positive action for themselves and others.
  • Those involved will occupy more of their time in a constructive manner, as opposed to drinking, taking drugs, and committing crime. In other words, it can keep people off the streets, and hopefully result in a general decrease in crime. The ripple effects are far reaching, as people involved will be able to steer their lives in a more positive direction. As they gain new skills and begin to see the fruits of their labour, their general self-esteem and sense of self-worth will increase. They will begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and feel more positive about their future, about learning and education; they will become more empowered and strive harder to better their lives. What with more available income, they should be able to do just that.
  • Through working with the earth people will re-establish a connection with nature and gain a greater appreciation for the environment and life, and in so doing will add balance and harmony to their lives. This could lead to the development of noble and philanthropic qualities such as compassion, patience and kindness, as they strive to work harmoniously with others for the greater good of the community.
  • With less street crime to fight, perhaps some of our tax money will be directed towards more community projects, which results in a bit of a snowball effect. The government needs to understand that this is a long-term project that may initially require some capital investment, but which offers many long-term returns.

We all stand to gain from these kinds of projects, not just those directly involved. If the positive changes in communities become obvious, perhaps the projects will gain traction in communities all over the world. In an ideal world, we could stamp out global starvation altogether!

Related

Execute or Die

The blogmaster followed with interest the passing of Bills yesterday in the Lower House of the National Payment System Bill 2021 and the Barbados Identity Management Bill 2021. The government appears to be moving to take advantage of technology to enhance and transform how Barbadians do business in a new ecosystem, pay for goods, services. Gone are the days when banks and to a lesser extent credit unions monopolized payment systems. Replacing the ‘tattered and embarrassing’ looking Barbados ID card is also overdue. From following the debate the new Barbados ID card will use current technology to store a range of data to permit the holder to do different types of transactions with optional validation with the use of biometrics etc. The improvements once implemented will improve business facilitation and other deficiencies.

The initiative by government to improve the ‘national payment ecosystem’ to quote Minister in the ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn although laudable exposes the fact homegrown businesses do not control the bulk of payment transactions. For too long Barbadians seem happy to be consumers of goods and services instead of becoming owners in the distribution chain whether financial or commodity. Unless we discover ways to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery enhancements we make facilitated by new laws in parliament will be nothing more than painting ‘lipstick on the pig’.

The other development which caught the attention of the blogmaster was the announcement last week a comeyuh promised to invest 10 million dollars to transform the 400 acre Haymans plantation to a state of the art farm. The blogmaster commends the investor who for whatever reason appears to be motivated to do something that should be part of a larger project to address food security in Barbados. Covid 19 has exposed our shortcomings as far as agriculture production is concerned. We agree there has been increase in agricultural output, however, nothing that has significantly moved the needle to address food security concerns. Did it escape Barbadians Charles Gagnon, owner of Haymans had to remove 50 truckloads of garbage illegally dumped on the site.

Related Links:

The initiative is a timely reminder to inquire what is the project status of 30 acres of land located at Dukes plantation that was donated to UWI Cave Hill Campus in 2017. There is a lethargy that seems to permeate everything we do in Barbados. Surely we have referred to implementation deficit often enough to have made a conclusion by now that we have to change how we do business if we want to sustain an acceptable quality of life for our people. There is an advantage to being a 2×3 island. It should equip us to be nimble in decision-making and project execution.

In simple less flowery language Barbadians must shed comfortable politically partisan positions and evolve to assessing what are national imperatives and just do it. The constant and banal snarling exhibited by stakeholders in civil society is unacceptable given our investment in education. We are a Black majority nation and should be embarrassed to acknowledge that our key gateways to economic activity are controlled by minority AND foreign interest.

#WhatIsTheSocialPartnership

Pumpkins and Corporate Social Responsibility

Submitted by Kammie Holder

Selfish, unpatriotic, heartless, self serving are but a few choice adjectives that could be attributed to companies within Barbados who would import pumpkin amidst a glut in Barbados. 

Some of these said companies are the same ones who often suck on the nipples of taxpayers via government for economic relief and concessions. Where is your sense of corporate social responsibility? Barbados as a country has always respected Caricom and WTO free trade treaties as required and will continue to respect international agreements as an orderly democracy.

Thus, the least the corporate maguffies and selfish importers could have done is to negotiate with local farmers if they really cared about their workers, workers families and Barbados.  I am not one who believes in carte blanche home drums beat first mantra, for profit and corporate social responsibility must go hand in hand. Would it make sense to have cheap energy generation from a nuclear power plant that spills its nuclear waste water into the surrounding sea, destroying the marine life and livelihood of fisherfolk.

Hell no.

Its time enough, companies in Barbados understand that corporate social responsibility goes beyond just sponsoring fete and sports, as distractions from life’s struggles.

In lieu of the absence of strong oversight in the high casual usage of pesticides in farming  within Caricom I would like to humbly suggest the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry Of Health seeks to ascertain the pesticide residue of level of these pumpkins  to assure the public they are safe for human consumption.  Perhaps some arrogant indifferent person somewhere rather than act on concerns will dismiss concerns as self serving mischief. 

Let me say importers in Barbados need to do better and stop exploit the docility of Bajans whose nipples they have continuously sucked on and are now pre-cancerous. As importers and retailers you want Bajans to patronize local establishments over foreign ones, yet you turn around and exploit our loyalty. If the selfishness continues I shall personally mobilize a boycott of your establishments just as the Muslim are leading a boycott of french manufactured goods, do you can take this as an idle threat at your own peril.

Some day we will awaken from our self imposed slumber and stop seek pity as well as blame others for our lot in life. To live this life without a cause is to live a life without purpose. 

Carmeta Fraser Smiles

The Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados Cleviston Haynes will deliver the quarterly review of Barbados’ economy, next Wednesday, October 28 at 11:00 AM. In recent years Barbadians have become numb to the performance of the economy as we battle with a high debt to GDP, high unemployment, low national productivity to name three key performance indicators.

The pandemic expectedly served to stress the fragile state of the local economy and according to the mid year review of the economy by the Central Bank in June 2020 – see Central Bank of Barbados Review of the Economy January the economy saw a sharp decline that was the trend across sectors, EXCEPT, for Agriculture which saw a 3.7 percent expansion in non sugar agriculture.

For many years Barbados Underground has pleaded with government to allocate additional resources to the food sector. Barbados is surrounded by the sea with an abundance of fish, a mature poultry and pig industry and with declining sugar production available land space to plant root and other crops to grow the agriculture sector. It is heartening to see non sugar agriculture output trending upwards and expect that next week the trend will continue when the Governor delivers the quarterly report. A good news story forced by the pandemic we have to admit.

Related Link: Carmeta’s Corner

Last year government launched the Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED) to increase domestic agricultural production with the objective of enticing more young people and the use of technology into farming.  In 2011 Barbados Underground featured the Aquaponnics project located at Bairds Village – Baird’s Village Aquaponics Project, A Case Study For Homegrown Success. Finally Mr. Hinkson, a pioneer of the technology in Barbados is getting the recognition he deserves.

See video on the FEED programme:

https://www.facebook.com/gisbarbados/videos/1845889902240930

It is no secret one of the factors negatively affecting the agriculture sector is praedial larceny. Successive government have paid lip service to introducing measures and enforcing existing laws to protect farmers and the sector. If we are serious about increasing and sustaining output, we MUST address the scourge of praedial larceny. If it were the tourism sector we know the calvary would have been summons by government to lend assistance.

That said we should be encouraged by the growth in non sugar agriculture and continue to improve by increasing technology and education in the sector. Let us guard against crop theft AND leverage opportunities CARICOM can provide. We lack the land space to benefit from scale and the small size of the domestic market to keep price points low to compare with the competition. The following report on the Caricom Agriculture and Food security Task Force is instructive and we pray for its success so that we continue to move the agriculture output needle in the right direction.

See GIS report:


CARICOM Agriculture & Food Security Task Force Established

by Cathy Lashley | Oct 21, 2020 |

CARICOM now has a Food Security Task Force to ensure that member states make agricultural development a priority.

This was disclosed by Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, recently, as he gave the Barbados Government Information Service an update of new initiatives under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) at his Culloden Road office. 

Ambassador Comissiong explained that the task force was implemented to ensure that the region does not experience any deficit in food supplies and that the agriculture and food production sectors were enhanced.

He said: “This initiative is intersecting with the Barbados National FEED (Farmers Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive) programme. The Government has a programme in place to bring on board 2,000 new farmers to seriously enhance Barbados’ capacity to produce its own food and agricultural produce.”

The envoy added that as it was announced in the Throne Speech, additional resources would be put in place to establish and develop “new markets across our landscape”.

“So, clearly, one of the responses to the crisis (COVID-19 pandemic) is for Barbados to produce much more of its food. Right now, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign exchange purchasing food from outside our CARICOM region. So, if at the regional level and at the national level we could enhance our food production, then in a situation where the tourism has collapsed [and] we are not bringing in the foreign exchange, we can get around that need for foreign exchange by producing more of our food,” he stated.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/blog/caricom-agriculture-food-security-task-force-established/