|Commentary: Gonsalves political missteps: The food security and agriculture debacle|
|Published on July 9, 2014||
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By D Markie Spring
In my opinion, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is on the verge of economic collapse!
Amongst many eco-political, environmental and social challenges, the agriculture sector in this country is in its worst state, from the death of its main export crop to just a minute production of dasheen and other corms in the Araceae family. In favourable periods, SVG’s agriculture sector employed about 60 percent of the labour force and accounted for 50 percent of merchandise exports. Today, only remnants of lack of vision and interest remain.
The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary's University, Canada
Additionally, before the Gonsalves’ government, SVG exported tons of agricultural products, resulting in millions of dollars in revenues. However, in the first three years under Gonsalves’ leadership, SVG’s gross agriculture output was valued at US$255 million. In 2003, the consequent decline in the banana exports has caused SVG to be classified as a net importer of food, valued at US$38 million. Since then, the agriculture sector has deteriorated further to the point of no recovery.
Furthermore, the Gonsalves housing strategy has utilized many acres of lands that were once allocated for cultivation. While an effective housing strategy is important to the success and growth of the country’s economy, its architectural designs and land use need revisiting.
My recommendations here is simply to discontinue constructing houses on arable lands and change the architecture to a high-rise townhouse design; changing the country’s building code and standard in the process.
However, the million dollar question still lingers in the dark! – Is Gonsalves’ claim for alleviating poverty real?
The government cannot alleviate poverty without setting up an agriculture and food security program: a sustainable agriculture sector, land use and land management. At least the leader should know that hunger is a terrible symptom to poverty across the globe not excepting SVG. If efforts are solely focusing on providing food or distribution, it is believed that the structural root, which creates hunger, poverty and dependency, would still exist thereafter.
Moreover, the government should be aware that there are a number of curable and incurable factors that affect agriculture: land degradation, land use, population growth, agricultural diseases, droughts, climate change/ global warming, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Hence, measures must be taken to set up water catchments, climate change program and an agricultural diversification program.
Similarly, SVG can tap into or adapt the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition program – a partnership designed to enhance private sector investment. Being the chairman of CARICOM Gonsalves should have called on other leaders to reverse years of decline in agricultural investment and to strengthen regional efforts to reduce poverty and hunger.
Subsequently, Gonslaves needs to set up programs that would assist farmers to access capital, develop sustainable strategies, provide emergency food assistance programs, investment in cutting-edge technology and research, expand trade and develop agricultural markets.
SVG should have a vision for agriculture – an initiative that engages the government, development partners, farmers’ cooperatives, business entrepreneurs, civil society and other groups working together to achieve sustainable agricultural growth. Coupled with this, to be able to feed the entire population, the country’s vision must address the need for economic opportunities through agriculture, delivering food security and environmental sustainability.
It should be noted though that this initiative would demand producing more food with fewer resources and, at the same time, reinvigorating rural economies. Gonsalves must be aware that this initiative can be achieved, not by himself, but through greater investments, collaboration and innovation of the system by various stakeholders.
It is safe to conclude that the lack of interest shown relative to the agriculture sector in SVG has resulted in regressive economic growth. Comparatively, shutting agriculture in SVG is like closing the oil wells in Saudi Arabia.
Vincentians, look at Gonsalves’ inactions today and vote wisely tomorrow!
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Once more someone using a false name comes and attacks the truth. Markie Spring is a very respectable Vincentian who occasionally writes on these online mediums, what he is not is a political operative.
Markie Spring does not live in SVG, he is a Vincentian member of the Diaspora, standing outside looking in. Horrified by what he sees and forced to write the truth about what he sees.
When a someone comes here telling lies and using someone elseâ€™s name. Attacking a man who is brave and decent enough to write the truth and use his own name. A paid Marxist comes and attacks him in the hope of stifling the truth.
The truth is the most damaging thing for the ULP regimes and all its Marxist monsters. When someone writes the truth and it damages the regime, they pounce on the writer and try and belittle him or her.
I can assure you all Markie is 100% correct in what he wrote. This nasty little Marxist collaborator who calls itself Robert Crosby, is paid to destroy the truth.
Donâ€™t forget Joshua has been selected by Gonsalves to be considered a national hero. Yet he and his wife stole from the treasury. They caused the state to be 3 years late in becoming free of the British. At the time the British didnâ€™t want to consider such corrupt people in running SVG.
Negative growth 2008 =neg/2009=neg/2010=neg/-2011 = .04% pos/2012neg/2013=neg and is also expected according to Gonsalves to be negative in 2014. I believe massaged figures have been produced to show a small growth. But depending on the way accounts are prepared and presented that kind of low growth can be pointed and directed to being negative or positive.
According to Gonsalves there was negative or low growth between 2008 and 2013. [2014 Budget speech]
According to Gonslaves "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is by definition vulnerable and is, by itself, incapable of generating self-sustaining growthâ€ś. â€śAccordingly, economic growth and development depend on its capacity to produce goods and services competitively not only for consumers at home, but importantly for those who reside overseas or who come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines as visitors/tourists". [2014 Budget speech]
He says SVG is incapable of generating self-sustaining growth, WOW! what an announcement.
He says economic growth and development depend on SVGâ€™s capacity to produce goods and services. We have no production of anything, we were promised by Gonsalves that there were investors lining up to come and invest if he was elected. No one came and those who were here, left.
â€śForeign direct investment, grants and soft loans to the government, and remittances from our Diaspora overseas, are the critical levers for externally-sourced public and private investmentâ€ś. [2014 Budget speech]
Is this what he has reduced us to, living from foreign direct investment, grants and soft loans to the government, and remittances from our Diaspora. Have we been reduced to be a collection of scroungers.
As far as I am concerned, those words show just how the Vincentian economy is damned under his leadership.
Gonsalves bragged in his budget speech that under the ULP "An increase in the number of public servants by almost one-third, from approximately 5,000 to roughly 6,300".
Its all very well bragging about how many more public servants he has created. What he should of been creating during the last 14 years was jobs in the private sector. Jobs that would pull SVG out of the crap that his policies have put us in.
One of the things that we must now consider paramount to the Gonsalves regime, is gross political, ministerial and some believe judicial corruption. The policy of the ULP appears to be never to charge and convict the culprits least it damages further the name of ULP and the government. No convictions no public knowledge of the corruptions, at home, in the region, internationally and for our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to consider.
My real worry is how truthful the figures and financial reports are from SVG. Can we believe them, has the accounting been creative, has it been downright fraudulent.
My real worry is this. PM Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves told us himself, from his own mouth, that he is a liar. He has told us that he is here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop. Maurice Bishop was instructed by the Cubans to keep two sets of books to deceive the IMF. Gonsalves has never told us what part of Bishops work he will be adopting, some of it, all of it, keeping two sets of accounts or not. He has never specified what he means. So I am unable to support such a man who makes such statements.
Now you can watch all the collaboratory scum come here and call me names, call me a liar, ask me what I am smoking etc etc.
Nothing that I write is without truth and merit, that is good reason in their minds and remit to attack me.
My friend Markie Spring is still drinking that LYAGRA Juice.
Markie Spring still seems hell-bent on getting into the top political circles here in St Vincent. As a result, he continues to say whatever is necessary to achieve his jaundiced ends. Like Malcolm X said, "by any means necessary!"
For the life of me, I cannot understand why political operatives like Markie, lie like this! Don't they understand that sooner or later, their lies would be discovered?
Do these folks think we are that gullible?
One of our ex-political leaders, Ebenezer Joshua, once quipped, "keep the people ignorant. You could control them better that way." Apparently, Markie thinks that is sound, positive advice.
Markie, are you aware that of all the OECS countries, St Vincent is THE ONLY ONE which has had NO negative economic growth for 3 consecutive years?
Markie, do you know that the only 2 Caribbean countries which have NOT REQUIRED financial bailing-out by the IMF are, ST VINCENT and St Lucia?
Markie, St Vincent is presently constructing its largest public sector project ever, in the form of our international airport. In spite of this, Markie, do you know that St Vincent still has the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the entire OECS?
Markie, are you aware that each and every year the IMF, World Bank, and other international bodies visit, research and monitor the economies of these islands, including St Vincent?
If Economic Armageddon for St Vincent was on the horizon, wouldn't these bodies be aware of this, well before Markie Spring?
In addition to his untruthfulness, also goes Markie's scare-mongering.
Markie, cut the nonsense! Who do you think you are fooling, especially with your continuous record of perpetual lying in the press?
Come on Markie, you could do better than that!
....OR, is the taste for possible high political office in SVG that desirable for you?
D. Markie Spring :
Peter should we uncover this unknown person again like we did to "Simon Horace Williams Anderson"
The one thing I am aware of is that Vincentians can assess their own political environment from what is truth from what is untruth.
No one is trying to fool the people. If we did then we would be fools. The evidence is there and that's the reason we are able to see and write.
Peter, I do not think we should waste our time with people who are spying on the man's behave. I have nothing to hide; hence, my article
Markie we should all be aware that truth will set us free, whilst lies uttered by the wicked will enslave us.
Isaiah 59:14 "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter".
Truth is one of the most powerful weapons we possess in the spiritual arsenal God has given to us to deal with the enemy. Unfortunately truth has fallen in the streets of Kingstown and the halls of political power and has been replaced by the lies of the devil.
Isaiah 59:4-5 "No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers' eggs and weave the spider's web; he who eats of their eggs dies, and from that which is crushed a viper breaks out".
Not many are pleading for truth in Saint Vincent and those who do are mocked and ridiculed as being extremists in a pretend politically correct society that is based on falsehood and lies. As a result of our Marxist leadership they have provided the perfect environment for Satan's power and deception to rule in the lives of Vincentian people.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved".
Although there is probably not a whole lot we can do about the absence of truth in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines under the current Marxist regime, I believe there is something we can do about it in the kingdom realm of the Lord. There are two areas God wants His truth securely establish in. They are in the church and in our personal lives.
We must realize that walking in the truth of God's Word is one of the most powerful weapons we have against the enemy of our false Christian leaders, with their wiles and schemes. We must have a powerful love and adherence to the truth of God's word if we are to stand against them.
Satan has nowhere to stand when he is confronted with the Truth.
John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it".
If we take away his place to stand, then he is not able to use his many devices and schemes against us. He is rendered totally ineffective.
Stand tall Markie, they are the devil incarnate, remember the words "if I work Obeah, I only work Obeah for the Lord" when we were told that, along with "I sometimes tell lies", it was an expose of just what Satanic scum we are dealing with.